The following represents an unofficial account of the significant items discussed and/or voted upon during the April 13, 2015 City Council Regular Meeting. The complete agenda packet is found here and here and 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 May 2015 Regular Meeting Agenda packet.
IV. APPEARANCE OF CITIZENS
As was reported here and here, several people expressed deep concerns about the results of the March 27th Special Meeting regarding the ORPD investigation. Two of those individuals were current ORPD officers. One of whom pointed out that he’d only been here for four years yet that was longer than half of our patrol officers. Concerns about anonymity and who could participate were discussed and various council members and city staff attempted to clarify these issues in ways that contradicted what was actually voted on in the March 27th meeting. In the end, many people left scratching their heads unclear on much of anything.
Additional details about inquiries made after the fact will soon be available. In the meantime, I encourage folks who could not attend to watch the video here and compare it to the Special Meeting which was videotaped by a private citizen and uploaded in segments here:
The original meeting that set the investigation into motion can be viewed here.
And let’s not forget what set this whole thing in motion:
VII. CONSENT AGENDA 5 items passed by unanimous vote
a. Approval of Feb 9, 2015 City Council Meeting Minutes NOTE: Unanimously amended to ensure that full transcription would be included from the beginning of the first ORPD resolution through to the end of the censure resolution.
b. Approval of Mar 9, 2015 City Council Meeting Minutes
c. Approval of the Mar 27, 2015 City Council Special Meeting Minutes
d. Resolution authorizing the city to apply for and accept an Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) from TN Housing Development Agency (THDA). Less administrative costs, $63K would go to TORCH Note: Smith abstained because she serves on the TORCH board of directors
e. Resolution for a change order to increases=e funding by $65,000 to a contract with Seelbach & Company for tree pruning, removal and brush control along power lines. Related to recent storms.
a. Resolution awarding a contract to Rogers Group for street milling and resurfacing for an estimated amount of $350K. Rogers Group was the only bidder for this project. Motion passed 7-0 NOTE: See notes from 7/14/13 & 4/14/14 for historical data on Rogers Group contracts
b. Resolution authorizing transmittal of comments to TVA regarding their draft Integrated Resource Plan. City comments included special mention of support for the Small Modular Reactor (SMR) Motion passed 7-0
c. Bid award of $117,183 for installation of a traffic signal at the OR Turnpike and ORHS crossing Motion passed 4-3 with Gooch, Chinn and Hensley voting “Nay”
d. Resolution authorizing lease extension with Anderson County for the Daniel Arthur building for operating the Senior Center. Terms of lease extend it for 5 years until December 2019 at a cost of $5,170 per month. Motion to defer until next month passed unanimously. The City Manager wants to negotiate a 2 year instead of a 5 year lease.
e. Resolution authorizing approval of new access at Rutgers Avenue to the Main Street project and approving a turn lane and traffic signal for said access. Motion passed 7-0
IX. PUBLIC HEARINGS AND FIRST READINGS OF ORDINANCES
a. An ordinance amending the zoning ordinance map by changing the zoning district of parcels .036 and .003 from B-3 Roadside Business to B-2 General Business Motion passed 7-0 Note: this item was moved up in the meeting and preceded the consent agenda
b. An ordinance to repeal and replace the ordinance for rules and regulations governing distribution of electrical power. NOTE: Changes primarily align with TVA requirements; however changes to relax deposit requirements were also included for discussion. Council voted 6-1 (Smith voted Nay) to defer until the May council meeting to discuss the policies related to deposits
X. FINAL ADOPTION OF ORDINANCES
a. Amendment to the zoning ordinance allowing for mixed use development in the city center. Motion passed 7-0 Note: this item was moved up in the meeting and preceded the consent agenda
b. Amendment to the 2014 fiscal year budget amending appropriations to eliminate the solid waste fund and increase the general fund. Motion passed 7-0
Report from Budget and Finance Committee: An amendment to the agenda included the recommendations of the Budget and Finance Committee (which consists of Baughn, Hope and Hensley) was added at the beginning of the meeting. Those recommendations, which were not voted upon by the committee on which I serve our outlined here. They included maintaining current funding for the schools, supporting the preschool initiatives, finding additional funds for the Park and Recreation Dept, and for new financial software.
Smith made a motion to amend to include a fifth recommendation to seek ways to provide raises for both city and school employees. The motion passed 6-1 with Baughn voting “Nay.” I voted against the amendment because it violates the City Charter which strictly forbids council from having any say in how the Board of Education allocates funding. What’s more, it contradicts the first recommendation of maintaining the maintenance of effort which would have to be increased to accommodate the increase required to produce the raises. The primary motion to approve all five recommendations passed 5-1-1 with Hensley voting “Nay” and Baughn abstaining.
Additional discussion was had with various BOE members who were in attendance. Bob Eby made a statement that teachers had only had the equivalent of a 1.5% raise over the last ten years. I pointed out that he needed to clarify that statement as it pertains only to cost of living raises. That, in fact, according to the data the schools report to the state, other increases such as annual steps and career ladder payments have obviously influenced the average salaries by a greater percentage. The following represents the changes in just the last five years: