Council Votes: 5/9/16 OAK RIDGE CITY COUNCIL MEETING SUMMARY

The following represents an unofficial account of the significant items discussed and/or voted upon during the May 9, 2016 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 be posted on the city website in the June 2016 Regular Meeting Agenda packet.

VI. SPECIAL REPORTS

a. City Judge Salary Review Committee Report – motion to accept passed 6-1 with Baughn voting “Nay) This review committee formed in large part because of a concern that the newly created AHO position had significantly reduced the city judge’s workload. The committee, chaired by Smith recommended maintaining the judge’s salary at its current level of $41,600 per year. I believe the judge hears cases once or twice per week, but the committee offered no data on his workload or any other aspect of his efforts.

b. Budget and Finance Committee Report – motion to accept passed 7-0. Committee recommends a compensation study, purchasing accounting/utility software, hiring an additional housing inspector, funding a senior center design and supporting a city/school CIP. No recommendations were made or discussed regarding total appropriations or a tax rate.

VII. CONSENT AGENDA

a. Approval of April 11, 2016 meeting minutes. Motion passed 6-1 with Hensley voting “Nay.” Hensley attempted to amend comments of a citizen, expressing a desire for the city clerk to ascribe intent.

b. Resolution awarding a contract to USTanx for the rehab and repainting of a raw water storage tank for $150,200. Motion passed 6-1 with Hensley voting “nay” because he wanted DOE to pay part of the bill. Per the agenda packet, they are paying half.

c. Award to Omicron Electronics for electronic test equipment and software for electric department for $45,323. Motion passed unanimously.

VIII. RESOLUTIONS

a. Resolution awarding a contract to TML for property, liability and workers comp insurance for $884,744. Motion passed unanimously. Normally, we waive the bid process for this contract, which requires a unanimous vote. I made it known last year that I would not support waiving the bid this year and thus, it was bid out. This year’s cost is 6% less than last year.

b. Resolution authorizing a professional services agreement with Cannon and Cannon for engineering services related to pedestrian safety improvements. Total cost of $96,000 with TDOT paying 80%. Motion passed 5-2 with Baughn and Chinn voting “nay”. This is part of a $541,200 project limited to two intersections that had no reported accidents. I could not support spending such a large amount of taxpayer money while ignoring so many other greater priorities.

c. Resolution awarding a contract to Duracap Asphalt for street milling and resurfacing for $430,000. Hensley motioned to amend to award the contract to the higher bidder, Rogers Group. Chinn seconded the motion. Motion to amend passed 6-1 with Baughn voting Nay. Amended motion passed 6-1 with Baughn voting “Nay.” Vocal supporters (Gooch and Chinn) of the motion to set aside the bid outcome argued that the difference was minimal and that we would lose sales tax revenues with Duracap. Chinn also argued that Rogers group contributes to our community in other ways such as the Blankenship Field project, a nonprofit on whose board Mr. Chinn serves. The city manager stated that we would not lose those monies. I commented that we’ve awarded over 31 contracts to Rogers Group in the last 5+ years totaling over $4M and often without any other bid offers. I also shared that many individuals have contacted me about the poor quality of Rogers Group work. Smith shared that she too had been approached about quality issues and suggested that we allow someone other than Rogers Group to do road work. As the final vote indicates, once again, council underscores the city’s reputation as being favorable to a “good ole’ boy” network and thus discouraging to competition.

d. Resolution authorizing the expenditure of $105,138 from the ERR fund to purchase (2) police cars and equipment. Motion failed 3-4 with Baughn, Chinn, Gooch and Hope voting “nay”.  See my comments on past purchases here and here. This would have made 13 brand new vehicle purchases in the last few years. According to Chief Akagi, we have surplused 10 patrol vehicles in the last two years, many of which go into service elsewhere. The current fleet size totals 64 vehicles with 35 of those being patrol vehicles – more than five times the number of officers on patrol at any given time.

e. Resolution approving the FY2017 Annual Action Plan and proposed allocations of CDBG funds in the amount of 4217,646. Details of initial public hearing discussed here. Motion passed unanimously.

f. Resolution approving a contract with TDOT for maintenance of state highways within city limits reimbursable for $141,175. *Item added to the formal agenda at the beginning of the meeting. Details contained in the linked agenda packet above. Motion passed unanimously.

IX. PUBLIC HEARINGS AND FIRST READING OF ORDINANCES

a. First Reading of an ordinance to amend Title 10 “Animal Control” to allow for keeping hens. Motion passed 5-2 with Gooch and Chinn voting “nay”

XII. COUNCIL REQUESTS FOR NEW BUSINESS

Discussion of proposal submitted by Mr. Richard Spraker to manage the city-owned golf course.

Mr. Spraker’s proposal (contained in the agenda packet) charges a management fee that would be 20% of what we are currently paying Billy Casper who has operated the course at a last for most of the last 15 years. Potential savings over a period of 4-5 years would more than offset any penalties associated with terminating the Billy Casper contract early. The debt service, capital maintenance and management contract of the golf course have cost taxpayers over $10 million despite having been sold as a revenue generator. It is projected to continue losing money. (Read more on the golf course financial history here). This proposal afforded council an opportunity to take a small step towards course-correction. Multiple council members agreed that we should look into the possibility of pursuing alternatives and directed the city manager to return to us with a timeline of possible steps including soliciting RFPs.

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3 thoughts on “Council Votes: 5/9/16 OAK RIDGE CITY COUNCIL MEETING SUMMARY

  1. As a property owner in Oak Ridge, I appreciate your efforts to bring some sense to the ridiculous spending policies of the council. Keep up the good work.

  2. Didn’t see the meeting, but based only on your write-up…

    City Judge Salary Review: Good job. Committees need to justify their decisions with data.

    Cannon and Cannon Resolution: Which intersections? There are a few that keep coming up in TSAB meetings based on other issues than pure safety. According to our man Roger, it’s getting harder to get funding from TDOT (could get worse w/o Hall Tax, too?). May need to start taking handouts when they come, but better would be to figure out how to aim the funds toward where we want them used, if possible.

    Duracap vs Rogers bid: This falls into the “perception is reality” theory – even if it’s not favoritism, looking as such is dangerous. Your views seem to reflect your awareness of that social paradigm. Historically, construction companies have proven many times that perception actually reflects reality. Hopefully not the case here. Rogers seems to scratch our back, too.

    Squad Cars: Not all, but enough that it’s noticeable, cops are driving poorly – texting, speeding w/o lights or sirens in residential areas, disregarding the stop signs and signals they ticket us for. Despite my love for the force and respect for what they do (great job by the task force last week – about ten vehicles and maybe twice that many officers raided next door and were quiet and respectful of the neighborhood and got their men), they need to lead by example in this age of bad driving. It affects my personal willingness to give them cars… I would love to see some of them adapting the old-school paradigm of using feet to walk the beat more often (as my friend the ex-cop from the 80’s used to do). They probably do in other neighborhoods that actually need a visible uniformed presence.

    Hens at home: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B3174Ndpdbw

    🙂

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