Nick's Council Connection (4Aug2014)

RentalMoratorium.pngCouncil Meeting Date: August 4, 2014

Council Meeting Location: City Hall, 220 Clay St, Cedar Falls, IA 50613

In Committee we talk about public danger and a moratorium solution. Regular council business includes approving construction bids, lobbyist agreement and third party loans, among other things.

- Committee of the Whole (5:55pm, Mayor's Conference Room, ELECTRONIC AGENDA)-

In this committee meeting, we consider suspending property rights to urgently address grave injustice, health, safety and welfare dangers relating to the new issuance of rental housing permits. The use of a moratorium is an all-powerful exercise of local power - because it disallows, maybe forcibly, the exercise of rights and privileges.  The power should be constrained like the use of the atom bomb.

RentalMoratorium.pngThis moratorium would amount to a forcible restriction on property rights and free market forces. The petitioners must justify why a moratorium is the option of last resort - that there is a true public danger. In Further, a moratorium must have clear clear, undeniable, impact on the 'collective good'. Taking a 'breather' from free market forces does not qualify, this is not a solution. Now, if we expect a silver bullet solution to appear during moratorium time, that would be great, and delusional. But if we are now considering a moratorium after six months of study, it must be a sign that we are no closer to understanding the problem and solutions than when we started. 

I am completely supportive of the first task force recommendation - to enforce our code, no more explanation necessary. But if the recommendations to come are anything like the current recommendation, it is cause for worry. Thankfully, I know more sensible solutions are being explored.

-Regular Council Meeting (7:00pm, Council Chamber, ELECTRONIC AGENDA)-

New Business

F.1.b) This item presents the bids for the Merner to College Street sidewalk project (I commented in my last Connection). Only one contractor bid on the project which always creates some concern, especially for a $48,000 project. Either contractors are really busy this time of year (a lesson to be learned) or we need to market bid opportunities with more zeal. I make the point because as a policy body, we have a goal to continue sidewalk infill throughout the city, we need competitive bids.

BeachHouse.JPGF.1.d) Last Monday (July 28), City Council held a special meeting to review the cost escalation for the Island Park Beach House. Soils are unstable and will require more foundation work to support the building structure. In the motion, we reiterated that the North Shore Boat Club will be responsible for all costs in excess of the city's current commitment of Gaming Funds ($150K) and FEMA flood recovery ($250K), no general property taxes will be used in the project. We also authorized staff to assist in grant exploration that do not compete with other city projects - quality of life or otherwise. You can always help the effort by purchasing a brick (click for North Shore Boat Club website and brick form). 

New Business - Resolution Calendar

F.2.a & c) We adopt a hiring resolution for Stephanie Sheetz. Ms. Sheetz will take on the newly established position of Planning and Community Services manager. Citizens will surely get a more formal introduction in Currents as she fulfills visioning, planning and community development roles. We also adopt a resolution of two existing employees into the Paid-On-Call program (POC). POC is a highly effective program that cross-trains and qualifies employees to perform important public safety functions. POC participation makes the employees eligible for merit pay increases.EideAndHeisinger.JPG

F.2.d) We approve an Agreement to continue our lobbying relationship with Eide and Heisinger, LLC. Matt Eide has been a great resource for Cedar Falls as we push our aggressive legislative priorities. The total cost is $12,500 for next year. The Eide team is accessible, responsive and driven; our voice in Des Moines is amplified with the firm. On rare occasions, we get something important accomplished which is saying a lot considering the ineptness of state government on city issues.

F.2.e) This item relates to an $100,000 loan to the Sturgis Falls Celebration Committee for revenue shortfalls for this year's event. It will bear the same interest rate that the city would otherwise earn in our money market accounts. There is no denying the importance of the annual celebration or the contributions the Committee has given to our community, such as the Overman Park Bandshell.  For the most part, this loan makes me uneasy, because I don't think the City should be a bank. I even implored the Mayor to at least charge our prevailing bond interest rate (around 3%) on the basis that we really don't have unencumbered funds laying around and this would theoretically require the city to bond when it would otherwise be avoidable. Nevertheless, when I consider the extenuating circumstances, the organization's balance sheet, and their contributions to city quality of life infrastructure, I am compelled to support the temporary loan. In the future, we must encourage the event to hold greater reserves for predictable events (i.e. weather). 

F.3) We consider passing the new sidewalk cafe ordinance which I have discussed frequently. This should enhance the downtown and Hill experiences for years to come.SohoAtNight.jpg

-Nick's Briefs-

I'm never short on words, but I can recognize when I have said enough. Thanks for reading!

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