Wednesday, April 16, 2014

We're Not in Kansas Anymore

I suppose there will be more readers today after the Council so I'll try to be politically correct ( or at least I will attempt to be, it's so so hard).
When the city attorney proclaimed at 9:30 that we should table the final closed session meeting because of the time I was actually disappointed.  THIS WAS SO MUCH FUN!!  Seriously.  I loved every second.  I was not ready to quit, I still had a good hour left in me. One member to my right was ready to leave an hour earlier I think  LOL

It all started with a BANG and after 5 minutes I suspect some people were a little startled.  This city council was not like the councils of the recent past.  Not that there was anything wrong with past councils but a major altercation concerning the approval of the agenda sort of made people sit up and take notice.  Yikes, we're here to play ball.

The crux of the problem was with the Commerce Center and Aldermen Clark wanted to table the conversation because the Commerce Center did not have all of their ducks in a row yet.  Why should we vote on something NOW when all of the listed problems had not been worked out yet.   

And I agree.

It was sort of a shot across the bow to developers, get your papers in order and THEN come to the Council for permission.  Let's not agree to things that have not yet been completed.  We are not going to rubber stamp something on a promise.   HOWEVER - there were representatives from True Value/Sentry Foods and Ace Hardware who wanted to meet and greet.

The vote for NOT letting them talk and tabling was Thom, Royem and Clark and the vote for letting them speak was Adams, Melotte and Bomcamp with The Mayor voting for them to speak.  The key was that even if we talked about the recommendation we did not HAVE to vote.

And that was the very first action of the new Council.  WHEW!  Game on!

The new store will be 30,000 square feet and will be the very first combined Sentry/Ace Hardware.  They will employ 50 to 60 people from the area with half the positions being full time and will offer insurance. I wanted to hear about the part time employees and if they would have insurance available because I found out that a department in Columbus purposely has one employee on 29 hours instead of 30 so they don't have to give this individual insurance,  I think this is abhorrent.

Once the presentation was finished and we were assured that the problems with this one area would be worked out in a few days the vote was taken and it was tabled.  

Other actions of note were that Columbus might actually have our own street sweeper soon.

Presently we pay $13.500 a year to have our streets swept twice a year but we have a chance to picked up a 2001 sweeper with 5000 hours on it for $25,000.  This should last 10 years.  Aldermen Royem asked to have an oil analyses before we make the purchase and if the physical examination passes we should have our own sweeper.

A small rewording to a position description for a part time Economic Development & Marketing Position was approved and applications are being accepted.

It doesn't sound like much for that took 1:45 hours

The Council of the Whole was next and this is basically new business.
There was a review/recap of the intercity snowmobile trails.  This was the 1st year for this so in my view it was a learning year. You really don't know the problems until you see what happens.  There were a few glitches and adjustments will be made but it seems most people think it was a success.

Parks and Rec want to put aside $100 for each rental agreement to put towards maintenance of the Pavilion and Rest Haven.  This came under fire from the Mayor who said that as of last year rental fees did not cover the cost of maintaining the building so putting aside money should not be an option.

On one hand I agree with him, HOWEVER, "we" (Parks and Rec) restructured our fees and I do not believe we will run at a deficit this year. Thom had an idea of instead of $100 per rental make it a percent and Crombi countered with a set amount.  For instance, since it costs $25,000 a year to maintain, any funds over $25K be put for maintenance.  The problem with this is timing of said funds at the end of the year.     

ANYWAY - Amy Jo will bring data to the next council showing that we should be making a profit from here on from rentals. I personally felt that we were a little  . . . . . contentious on this subject and somehow I feel we should apologize to Amy.  It's a great idea, we just have to work out the kinks and I personally thank her.
Seeing numbers and so forth will help on this subject.

There was talk about an employment agreement for Loren Glasbrenner who runs the city pool that I personally do not understand enough about to have an opinion.  Questions were asked about job descriptions as the Pool and Parks and Rec have seemed to split into two entities with no clear job boundaries.  This will be discussed again.

The creation of the CSS Task Force was discussed and the need for one and who should be on it.

The background on this is this.

This has to do with the 16/60 reconstruction which will kill Columbus downtown business for a summer, it will be horrific.  The DOT said "we need a strategic plan by late June".  And we just found out about this two weeks ago.

Being on the CDA we have been working on this but we knew we had at least a year and had just gotten estimates on how much things cost.  HOWEVER - now we have 2 months for an official document OR, the entire project could be moved back a few years.

Bomcamp then complains that Rod and Nathen should NOT be on the task force because we are on the CDA* which is totally useless and we have done nothing for two years.

I ignored his insult to whomever it was intended for and we moved on.

So the plan is to spend about $8K to hire a consultant that has done this before in Oregon, Sun Prairie Watertown, Grafton and a few other places.  He will be a facilitator  in charge with knowledge and the task force will tell him what we want.  We only get this chance once and I felt knowledge is a very important thing and we don't have a lot of time.    

This will move forward.

CDA* - here is the problem with the CDA.  I believe the CDA is sort of a think tank. But I believe a huge problem is where we meet.  The Council Chamber is a horrible place for ideas. 

Next time you have a meeting and are tasked to brainstorm and come up with ideas, have everybody put there chair against a wall so everyone is facing an empty room and no one can see anybody else and then bounce ideas around.   No one can really see anybody else, no facial expressions, no body language and when you speak you are speaking to an empty room and not the other members on your team. 

Do you think that is how Apple did it?

The Council Chambers is an idea crusher. 

Just my personal opinion.  Plus CDA meets only once a month.

We are considering a subcommittee to review and come up with a website which, against MY judgement, a very nice site was voted down a few months ago (I was a web designer in a former life and did not see any real problems).

And then the sad word came up  adourn  :-(


I believe the new council was great.  Lots of ideas, opinions and activity.  I felt like I personally was Council lite.  I'm not a construction person, more of a visionary but I feel each member of the council has certain things they excel in, it's a well rounded group that want to get things done correctly without just rubber stamping things.

I'm sure some will complain about "micro managing" but it's better then not managing at all.