July 8th Agenda/Updates —— Mall/Land Bank/Sign Ordinance

Hello! I hope you are all having a wonderful summer! Here are the highlights of current council activities:

Monday night we will hold our regular monthly meeting. The complete agenda can be found here. The significant items are as follows and you can see my questions/concerns to our city manager in the email pasted at the end of this post:

  1. Appointment of James W. Charles to the ORUD commission for five years
  2. $1.7M in waived competitive bids. These are the remaining unapproved items from the original resolution proposed last month totaling $5.5M. You can read details about each contract in the June agendas as well as in the meeting results posted on my website under “City Council Meeting Results”.
  3. Resolution supporting the Marketplace Fairness Act (taxing online retailers)
  4. Final reading of amended leash law ordinance (allowing for no leashes in a designated dog park)
  5. Approval of a one year, $300K contract with the CVB
  6. A resolution removing a previously appointed member of the beer board

On July 1st, council held a work session. See agenda and documentation here. In short, we discussed:

  • The proposed changes by the planning commission to the sign ordinance. Council will likely discuss further in a subsequent work session and have the first reading on August 15th.
  • Land Bank Legislation – I will try to write a column(s) on this in the near future. Council is expected to vote on an initial ordinance on August 15th.
  • Mall Update – Anticipated close date at end of year. Will definitely require taxpayer monies to finalize. We are anticipating that the prospective owners will ask for as much as $10M in upfront infrastructure costs. Council may face an initial vote as early as next month.

School Resource Officer Request/My open letter to Dr. Borchers regarding school safety issues. If it hasn’t already hit the papers, it will this week and I’ll run it on my website as well.

The next council work session is scheduled for July 22nd. Agenda TBD.

As always, your feedback and questions are encouraged. This is YOUR government, YOU have a say.



From: Trina Baughn [mailto:trina.baughn@gmail.com]

Sent: Wednesday, July 03, 2013 10:52 AM

To: Watson, Mark; Stanley, Diana; ccouncil@oakridgetn.gov

Mark –

The consent agenda is meant for “routine” items like meeting minutes, standard form resolutions, and appointments. Piling everything into the consent agenda in this manner is not in line with the Rules And Procedures “Order of Business” nor is it transparent to encourage council to blindly approve so many items of significance without discussion and individual votes.

I’ve made a few notes below about specific items that need to be placed in their appropriate order, but in the future we need not use the consent agenda as a catch all.

Of the original $5.5M proposed last month in waived competitive bids, we’ve already approved $3.7M. The items on this agenda total around $1.7M. Other than time saved on smaller contracts ($50K or less) I do not find much in the way of true justification for not bidding out much of this work. We are precluding an unknown number of businesses from having the same opportunity as the firms who are not competing at large for taxpayer monies. The fact that we are providing an unfair advantage to so many firms makes the resolution on Marketplace Fairness a joke. With that said, see my comments/questions below:

g. Street striping – $85K – when was the last time we bid this out?

i. Sewer cleaning and CCTV inspection $200,000 – the documentation suggests that both this and the manholes are not absolutely necessary. This would seem to be an example of rolling in expenditures for both EPA requirements and suggestions. I do see that these items are part of the MOM, but are they ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY to meeting the requirements set forth in the administrative order?

k. $300,000 for I.T. services seems excessive when we already have various support contracts in addition to 10 internal I.T. employees.

  • What is our total annual budget on I.T. expenditures?
  • If we have to contract out network support, GIS, web and EPA software support, what do those 10 employees do?
  • How many fall into the category of “desktop support?”

l. Temporary employment services $475,000

  • Having worked in this industry, I know that it is highly competitive. Why are we  primarily contracting with Alternate Staffing?
  • Further, the documentation states that we only anticipate a need of $225K and that the additional amount is to be set aside if needed for EPA workers. I thought Public Works already had a funding contingency built into their annual budget for an additional 8 employees.
  • We have 465 employees…..average hourly pay of a Public Works work pool employee is around $16 per hour. Add in 25% for benefits/overhead and we are at $20 per hour. At $475K, we’re talking about the equivalent of 11 FT employees. This seems highly inefficient.
  • Temp agencies mark up hourly rates by 50-110%. Where do Alternate Staffing rates fall in this range?

s. The resolution supporting the Marketplace Fairness Act should be placed appropriately within the agenda under the resolutions section.

t. The dog park ordinance needs to be placed appropriately on the agenda under the section of final readings of ordinances.



1 Comment

  1. This is interesting. Thank you for taking the time to put this information out. Transparency in government is always a good thing in the long run.

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