Council Meeting Date: December 1, 2014
Council Meeting Location: City Hall, 220 Clay St, Cedar Falls, IA 50613
In this 50th post, I cover economic development, golf fee deflation, Hoopla and more.
- Committee of the Whole (6:00pm, Council Chamber, ELECTRONIC AGENDA) -
In Committee, we receive our quarterly economic development update, review the speed limit on South Main, get an update on City projects and approve bills and payroll.
Each quarter, the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance (GVCA) presents its economic development activities. The GVCA works closely with the city's Economic Development division. Where the GVCA provides marketing, lead generation, community/workforce development and business assistance, the city develops infrastructure and tailored incentives for start-up, relocation and expansion. Cedar Falls is an 'investor' in the GVCA at $25,000/year. The city also pays incentive bonuses to the GVCA for specific development criteria up to $25,000. Cedar Falls' tide rises (or falls) with the Cedar Valley's. I am grateful for public and private leaders who had the foresight to combine economic development resources for the Cedar Valley. This year the GVCA was involved with major expansions at John Deere's Product Engineering center and Williams Interactive. They were also instrumental in attracting equipment component manufacturer, Zuidberg, to Cedar Falls.
-Regular Council Meeting (7:00pm, Council Chamber, ELECTRONIC AGENDA)-
New Business - Resolution Calendar
F.2.e) This item is a recommendation to freeze golf fees for another year in 2015, which would be three years at the current rate. According to the agenda report, revenue was up 6%. Costs were down 20.1%. The net effect reduced the operating deficit from ($170,000) to ($70,000). Last year staff was instructed to advertise and promote cheap play to improve the revenue side. Revenues were up 6% - hardly resounding proof of play-price elasticity, especially when considering weather, length of season and other play impacts. The real reason to celebrate is staff's effort to reduce expenses. Cheap golf and deficit advocates should test the 'cheap play hypothesis' and reduce prices even further. If it is truly elastic, we should see play explode. Or alternatively, we could raise prices to test the opposite effect. My prediction of a $200,000 deficit this year didn't happen. Obviously, I didn't account for the 21% fixed-cost reduction (conventional wisdom suggests costs go up each year). Nevertheless, the cost reduction is remarkable. I just hope this proves it is possible to reduce costs in all city operations to the same degree!
Decriminalize and Fix Problems
I casually entered into the drug reform conversation in my last 'Briefs' post, Goal Setting and Cannabis. It was read with considerable interest. The well-written Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier article explored the issue further. Decriminalization must have resonated with our community because the response was nearly all favorable, crossing all generational and economic lines. Sure, there was some clever name calling and insinuations, but the fact that we can have an open and honest discussion about drug policy is a sign that society is advancing in favor of freedom and responsibility over government control and penalty.
I will offer more thoughts on our drug policy debacle and why citizens should demand reform at all levels of government in the weeks to come.
Holiday Hoopla once again kicked-off the holiday season in grand fashion. This year, Santa arrived from the sky, descending upon the reveling onlookers by lollipop-like balloons. Holiday Hoopla creates lasting memories for families and visitors. This event is made possible by an army of Cedar Falls volunteers and business sponsors. We live in a very special place and I encourage you patronize sponsors and thank individuals that make it possible. When planning your purchases during this holiday season and throughout the year, please consider locally-owned businesses first. A local purchase has 3x the income producing impact in the community than a dollar spent with non-local business. A quick look at the sponsor list makes the point - local businesses regularly invest in quality of life events such as Holiday Hoopla, Sturgis Falls Celebration, College Hill Arts Festival, Movies Under the Moon, Artapalooza and so many more. Your local purchase is an investment in your community.
50 is Good
This is Blog post number 50. My blogs were an experiment to increase community engagement. They seem to have had that effect. Blog prep is a process in itself, but it helps me understand and disseminate the issues and opportunities facing our great city. And while agreement is never 100%, at least I can convey the reasoning behind my thinking while also taking feedback that continuously refine my thoughts. Admittedly, as an engineer, I am better at analysis and applied science than the written word, but this format seems to work as evidenced by the web traffic and community conversations that ensue. Thanks for reading.