THE PEOPLE’S BUSINESS – 5/12/14 OAK RIDGE CITY COUNCIL MEETING SUMMARY

The following represents an unofficial account of the significant items discussed and/or voted upon during the May 12, 2014 City Council Regular Meeting. The complete agenda packet as well as a video of the meeting can be viewed here. Draft meeting minutes will be posted at the city website as part of the June 2014 Regular Meeting Agenda packet.

VII. CONSENT AGENDA  6  items passed by unanimous vote

e. Renewal of permit for Scott E. Garriott to sell alcohol for one year and waiver of residency requirement

Note: I’d questioned some of the incidents listed in his packet and was informed by the city attorney that they were not of concern to ABC and that he met their criteria

f. Resolution accepting a $16,000 emergency management grant from the State of TN, Dept of the Military, TEMA

VIII. RESOLUTIONS

a. Contract award to Coulter and Justus for the city audit contract.  $55,250 Motion passed 7-0

Note: I served on the audit selection committee. Deciding factors were overall experience (in particular utilities experience), knowledge and resources to meet our needs. Though they had come in at the high end of the fee schedule, we managed to negotiate them down a total of 11% or about $39K (over the entire 5 years).

b. Resolution approving CDBG consolidate plan including the allocation of block grant funds estimated at $498,911 for housing acquisition, demolition and repayment of the Scarboro Community Center loan.

Council spent an hour discussing this item. My concerns (many of which were shared by a number of other council members) : CDBG funds are intended to benefit low income families. In fact, the feedback required as part of the grant application process emphasized needs such as homeless facilities, handicap services and transportation services. However, the needs expressed in the surveys do not align with staff recommendations since the majority of these funds are being directed towards property acquisition that is being funneled to the Land Bank. What’s more, the city sat on last year’s allocation of $272K and rolled it into this year’s plan to spend over $363K specifically for housing acquisition and demolition. I noted that the city has already used over $300K to acquire 20+ properties, over half of which have been shifted over to the land bank. They have identified 10-15 more properties for acquisition in the coming year. What’s more, some of these properties are owned by property management firms and/or realtors. We are essentially rewarding people for not properly maintaining their properties which is of no direct impact on low income families.

Garland motioned to amend to direct $34K towards TORCH. Motion failed 4-3 with Baughn, Mosby and Garland voting “Yes” and Hensley, Hope, Beehan and Miller voting “No”; Hope motioned to amend to set aside $34K for an undesignated organization. Motion passed 5-2 with Miller and Beehan voting “No” (Hensley changed his vote from an abstention); Main motion passed 6-1 with Miller voting “No”.

c. Contract award to Olameter for electric/water meter reading services for $718,065 Motion passed 7-0

The contract amount is for the entire three year period.  Meters are read once a month.  On a straight “contract total/ number of reads” basis, the meters are being read for $0.71.  The contract, however includes up to three days per week of “service work” (installing and disconnecting meters, re-reads, etc.).  The actual bid amounts for the meters (per each per month) are as follows:  Item 1: Reading of Residential Water Meters: $0.501; Item 2: Reading of Commercial Water Meters: $0.995; Item 3: Reading of Residential Electric Meters: $0.501; Item 4: Reading of Commercial Electric Meters: $0.995; The weighted average of the meter reading is $0.567 per meter.

The Service work is provided on an hourly basis at $39.27; The bid was constructed as a “Per meter” read.  If the contractor did not perform the reading, there would be significant consequences for the company.,  Grid One did not choose to bid in this manner.  Instead they submitted a bid with the following written in the Total bid line: “Grid One has only submitted pricing based upon a T&M rate of $29.45 per hour- straight time- per employee” This was not responsive to the request for bids.

d. Contract award to Portland Utilities Construction company for sewer system rehab work associated with the EPA administrative order for $2,507,093 Motion passed 6-1 with Baughn voting “Nay” This spending is directly tied to the city’s multiple failures which led to the EPA administrative order (read here)  which has resulted in wastewater rate increases thus far between 102% to 135%. Until the city takes responsibility for its failures and pursues alternative funding that does not further burden our ratepayers, I will not support spending without accountability.

e. Resolution authorizing the city to put out to bid parking lot improvements at Blankenship field for $180,000.

There was so much wrong with this, it’s hard to understand how my fellow councilmembers supported it. We essentially just wrote a blank check to an unknown entity for unspecified services. No documentation detailing what this expenditure would entail was provided to council. The resolution contained an exception clause that eliminated the normal step of having council approve the award of the bid. The city manager failed to address my concerns emailed to him last week (and printed below). The BOE only requested that the city pay for a $69K ramp (which the city said it could cover for $30K). The parking lot piece was not justified (and by my visual inspection of it really just needed two potholes filled in) and had not been previously identified as any type of priority.

I wanted to support the city playing a role in the future of Blankenship, but doing so under these circumstances was very misleading and highly unethical in my mind. I motioned to reduce the funding to $69K to cover the ADA ramp. The motion failed 5-2 with Baughn and Garland voting “yes”.  (Hensley changed his vote from a yest to a no after the vote)Ms. Garland motioned to amend to $30K ramp and refer parking lot funding to CIP. The motion failed 3-5 with Baughn, Hope and Garland voting Yes.   The original motion passed 5-2 with Baughn and Garland voting “No”

Mark –

Help me understand how a $69,000 request for an ADA ramp has escalated to a $180,000 project that includes resurfacing a parking lot? Per the handout that Mr. Thacker provided council and the BOE during the 2-21-14 joint meeting, the estimated cost of the bleachers was $375,000. When they added in the ADA ramp, storm drainage, the home stairs, retaining wall, and a sidewalk, they estimated the total project would cost $550,000.  There was no mention of a need to repave the parking lot in this initial document. It appears that the BOE accepted the bid of $523,940 to the exclusion of the home stairs. Since those costs were rolled into the original quote of $550K, had they accepted the total bid of $563,940, when you add on this $180,000, the total cost of this group of projects appears to have increased by about $194,000 or 35% since first announced in February. 

 http://oakridgetoday.com/2014/03/24/school-board-approves-blankenship-bleacher-replacement/#more-37604

 “Board members plan to ask city officials for additional help to finish part of the project, including a $69,000 handicapped ramp with switchbacks from the city-owned parking lot below the field up to the city-owned field..”

f. Resolution converting East Madison Road to a two-way street and eliminating an unknown number of parking spaces.

After discussion involving the affected apartment owner attorney and a representative for the Alexander Inn project, Garland moved to table until June 2nd.  See additional details here: madison road email explanation. Motion to table passed 7-0

g. Resolution approving a policy guidance statement for the city manager’s use in preparation of the FY2015 budget.

Garland motioned to amend item six to eliminate a specific reference to the Chamber of Commerce. Her motion passed 4-3 with Garland, Mosby, Baughn and Hope voting “Aye” and Beehan, Hensley and Miller voting “No”; Amended main Motion passed 7-0

X.  FINAL ADOPTION OF ORDINANCES

  1. Ordinance amending the FY2014 budget to allow the schools to use $454,940 of their reserves for the purchase of replacement bleachers at Blankenship Field Motion passed 7-0
  2. Multiple (8) amendments to multiple zoning ordinances including those pertaining to shooting ranges, business and residential permitted uses, transitional housing and off-street parking. Item was removed from the agenda by the city manager prior to the meeting

XI. ELECTIONS/APPOINTMENTS

Election of one high school student to EQAB (Emma Milloway) and one to TSAB (Alexander Crutchfield)

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