THE PEOPLE’S BUSINESS – 6/2/14 OAK RIDGE CITY COUNCIL MEETING SUMMARY/2015 BUDGET REVEAL

The following represents an unofficial account of the significant items discussed and/or voted upon during the June2, 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 most likely be posted at the city website as part of the July 2014 Regular Meeting Agenda packet.

VI. SPECIAL REPORTS

The city manager presented his version of the 2015 City Budget and was followed by the school superintendent who gave a brief overview of the schools’ 2015 budget. As presented, the city budget establishes an increase in the property tax rate from $2.39 to $2.76. The increase represents an increase in the city’s contribution to the schools of $3.8M or 27%. I questioned that amount during our meeting because the school budget total increase of $7.3M appeared to factor in the recent approvals of rainy day funds we approved for capital projects ($2.2M for bleachers and STEM). Upon further review, I find that the total increase is primarily attributable to three sources: their increase request of the city, a $2.4M gift from ORPSEF and $2.1M for a new capital lease.  

VII. CONSENT AGENda  4  items passed by unanimous vote

c. Resolution authorizing purchase of 3 pick up trucks and 1 dump truck for public works estimate amount of $120K

d. Resolution awarding contract to Sweeping Corp of America for street sweeping for $76,360 (1/3 is reimbursable by the state)

VIII. RESOLUTIONS

a. Conversion of East Madison from a one way to a two way street. Motion passed 6-0-1 with Garland abstaining

b. $699K contract to rehabilitate a water tank at ETTP Motion passed 7-0   Note: DOE is funding all but $30K of this

c. Contract award to Hurst Excavating for sewer rehab in compliance with the EPA A.O. for $1.17M Motion passed 7-1 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.

d. Bid waiver and contract award to TML for insurance coverage $1.24M Motion passed 7-0

e. Bid waiver and contract award to Integracon and others for temporary technical support $150K.  Motion passed 7-0  Note: Justification for waived bid is that multiple providers are allowed through RFP process; this line item was reduced from $300K last year and only $25K was used of that. These services are contingency-based and used primarily for unforeseen technical issues that may arise.

f. Bid waiver and contract award to Motorola for maintenance of communications system for $84K. Motion passed 7-0 Note: justification for waived bid is sole provider

g. Bid waiver and contract award to Tritech Software for maintenance of public safety computer systems for $80K. Motion failed 6-1 with Baughn voting “Nay” (waived bids require unanimous vote) In February, council approved a $500K purchase from Spillman to replace the Tritech software. The go live date told to us was January 2015. Now, this documentation says it has been delayed until May 2015. Chief Akagi provided no justification for the delay other than to say that it was Spillman’s doing and not ours. One of the selling points of Spillman was an annual cost savings of $40K  in maintenance fees. I see no reason that Spillman cannot cover the additional costs due to their delay.

h. Contract renewal with Ferguson Group for federal lobbyist services for $30K. Garland moved to table for lack of justification. Her motion passed 5-2 with Hensley and Mosby voting “Nay”

i. contract renewal with Ray Evans for economic development services for $42K.  Motion passed 6-1 with Baughn voting “Nay” Contrary to the city manager’s documentation, the mall has not sold. I had no problem approving this contract last year, but the deals that are credited to Mr. Evans (the mall, the Alexander Inn, Jackson Square) have either not happened, produced no revenue and/or involved tax breaks. I see no logic in paying someone to bring in businesses that we then in turn have to pay to come here. Mr. Watson provided no data to demonstrate ROI for this taxpayer funded position even though his sole purpose is economic development. What’s more, we fund a number of other entities for essentially the same purpose.

j. contract renewal with Steve Jones for economic development services for $42K. Motion passed 7-0 Watson stated that Mr. Jones was working on deals that could bring in 31,000 new jobs and $1.8 BILLION in capital. I am willing to give Mr. Jones the opportunity to prove himself. However, the chamber of commerce has made similar claims in the past but could never verify if their projections actually materialized.

k. Resolution accepting the “Mayor’s Maker Challenge” request from ORNL. Motion passed 5-0-2 with Baughn and Garland abstaining Note: This resolution was brought to council 15 minutes before the meeting. The mayor was the single source ofinformation and could not even estimate what costs would be affiliated with this commitment. Further implications were vague or nonexistent.

IX. PUBLIC HEARNINGS AND FIRST READING OF ORDINANCES Motion passed 7-0

Amendment to ordinance pertaining to the DOE wastewater utility billings for costs related to the EQ basin Note: Allows for cost recovery of $1.4M from DOE to be returned to the city over a 5 year period through their utility bills

X.  FINAL ADOPTION OF ORDINANCES Motion passed 7-0

Multiple amendments to multiple zoning ordinances (those pertaining to shooting ranges removed entirely), business and residential permitted uses and off-street parking. Note: A substitute amendment was accepted that was identical to the originally approved amendment except for the removal of the shooting range references.

 

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6 thoughts on “THE PEOPLE’S BUSINESS – 6/2/14 OAK RIDGE CITY COUNCIL MEETING SUMMARY/2015 BUDGET REVEAL

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