Council Meeting Date: April 22, 2013
Council Meeting Location: City Hall, 220 Clay St, Cedar Falls, IA 50613
-Committee of the Whole (6:55pm, Mayor's Chamber)-
Bills & Payroll... the agenda is very light, a little reprieve from a full pipeline in May. A light agenda gives me an opportunity to dig into 'Bills and Payroll' more than ordinary (and admittedly spend a little more time with the kids on council packet weekends). This week, I'm asking about forfeiture expenses, storm water utility reimbursements, and a question on specific vendor activity. I've never identified any accounting anomalies (phew!), but I certainly learn a lot about the cash flows through the simple exercise of asking questions.
-Regular Council Meeting (7:00pm, Council Chamber)-
In Special Order of Business
Item E) relates to a Development Agreement with CV Commercial for the redevelopment of 2215 College Street (formerly Stebs). The agreement extends for rebates on all taxes paid over a 5 year period on the building value (about $750,000), not to exceed $140,000. The incentives are offered at the sole discretion of the council. This is a proper use of Urban Renewal incentives (TIF) as originally conceived by the Iowa Legislature back in 1969. My only inquiry to staff is whether this incentive level is consistent with past practices for similar infill projects such as in the downtown renewal area. I've already expressed my design concern with one of the inner units in my last council post: " The inner-unit is void of natural light in the living space. Some might criticize this as an effort to maximize bedroom count at the expense of living quality - which may well be the case. Since there is no applicable code requirement, the market will judge the wisdom."
In New Business
G.1.a) relates to the Departmental Monthly Reports for March 2013. Somehow, city staff succeeds in producing 41 pages reporting activity. I have requested that staff review all regular reporting requirements to determine how we can streamline into the most effective presentation for management and decision making. To a business person, data trends, utilization rates, incident anomalies, and basic financial indicators are most useful - preferably in a modern, dashboard style presentation that is dynamically created with the push of a button (a figurative button). While it may be interesting that 237 pet licenses were issued in March, it seems irrelevant from a policy or decision making point of view. However, if these were all dachshunds during a 12 month trend, it would at least make me smile.
G.1.h) relates to the 2012 Cedar Falls Police Department Annual Report. This report shows trends! In this case, crime was up but this was after two years of significant decline. Serious crime (that I defined as crime against people or property) remains low. Our investigative division is top notch, our beat officers are professional, courteous, and community-focused. I take a special interest in law enforcement policies and efficacy; Chief Olson is an excellent Chief with outstanding staff/officer support. You'll also see the new Ford Interceptor on patrol. This vehicle is receiving great reviews and is 25% more fuel efficient to boot!
On the Resolution Calendar
G.2.d) relates to the restructuring of the Cultural Division Manager to a Program Supervisor level which should save at least $30,000/year. As staff reviews every opportunity for savings in the face of fiscal challenges, this is a timely trial considering the current transition period. The Culture/Hearst staff, Commission and Friends group are outstanding and will certainly rise to the challenge and new opportunities.
G.2 n,o,p) relate to resolutions setting public hearings for the FY13 budget (non-material budget modifications yet required by law), Union Road Recreational Trail and development agreement for a 40,000 square foot facility in the Industrial Park.
Budgets - as many are aware, Cedar Falls is going through its own 'austerity' program. To remain viable in a hyper-competitive world, great organization must reinvent themselves to better serve their mission. Reinvention comes in the form of product and service innovations, production efficiencies, and process improvements. The city outsourced legal services this month to save approximately $100,000 per year. In addition, we've endorsed a plan to save nearly $3M in energy savings through LED street lighting over the course of 20 years. Process improvement and long-term investments are going to save the taxpayer money without any detectable service reduction. There is more work to be done, but I'm pleased with our commitment to remain viable and deliver value to the taxpayer.
Road Construction - it's that time of season. Major road reconstruction will occur (or has started) on Cedar Heights Drive, Rownd Street, Leversee Road, Boulder Drive, College Street, South Main Street and Madison Street. Progress doesn't come without inconvenience or a price. For a complete map of impacted areas: 2013 Construction Activity. For the most part, local road improvements are your Local Option Sales Taxes (LOST) at work, passed by voter referendum.
It is an honor to serve the citizens of Cedar Falls. I would love to hear from you!