Nick's Council Connection 9September2015

simplesolar.jpgCouncil Chambers, 220 Clay St, Cedar Falls, IA 50613

Divisional reports for goal setting, land lease for CFU's Simple Solar project, street light transfer. In Nick's Brief's, I follow-up on the TriCounty Drug Task Force presentation from the last council meeting. Happy reading.

-Committee of the Whole (5:30pm, ELECTRONIC AGENDA & PACKET)-

goals.jpgEach year, Divisional Directors (Community Development, Finance & Business Operations, Municipal Operations & Programs and Public Safety) present divisional updates and priorities as input for City Council's annual goal setting. Ron Gaines, Community Development Director, is the lead-off presenter. The Electronic Packet link above contains the presentation which covers Inspections, Planning & Community Development, Engineering and Water Reclamation. This is a sizable presentation highlighting many building and infrastructure projects throughout the city. Goal setting, a public meeting, is slated for November this year. 

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

Special Order of Business

E.1) This item relates to the land lease for CFU's Simple Solar project. CFU has identified 8 acres of municipal property in the Prairie SimpleSolarEarthView.JPGLakes natural area for the project. The site is ideal given its accessibility, visible location for learning, teaching and awareness. For the city's part, we demonstrate our commitment to energy diversity through this lease agreement for the benefit of the city and our citizens. This action converts idle land to a low-impact, value-generating, community asset. The city is also a significant investor in the solar plant which will raise returns on our reserves. I suggested investment considerations in a previous post, here.

Simple Solar is a community-owned solar generation plant where residents and businesses can invest in scaleable solar infrastructure to receive offsetting credits on their utility bills. Current annual return is estimated to be greater than 2%. Learn more and consider signing up for this unique opportunity at Cedar Falls Simple Solar. Today, CFU has 148.3 MW (megawatts) of capacity owned directly or under shared ownership. Of that, 7.5 MW are derived from wind (about 5% of total capacity). Nearly 950 residents and businesses have committed to nearly 4700 shares. Based on this commitment, the project is being sized to match demand.

Resolution Calendar

LED_StreetLight.jpgG.2.g) This resolution establishes a formal request to CFU from the city to transfer street lighting expenses to CFU. Today, CFU manages light poles and related maintenance for the street light system. CFU also bills the city for the energy consumption, approximately $400,000 per year. This transfer effectively removes street lighting utility charges from the general property tax bill to the utility rate-payer (it will show as a separate line item on the utility bill, about $1.55/month). In the 2015 budget, the city modeled this change which enabled a no to slight decrease in property taxes depending upon the property class.

A central council budgeting philosophy has been to allocate costs to beneficiaries, usually in the form of fees. For example, garbage fees are charged to the customer on his/her utility & city services bill. This action accomplishes several objectives:

  1. Adds capacity to the general fund
  2. Creates cost-sharing equity among property classes (all properties pay despite their tax-exempt status)
    • All properties receive the benefits of public safety, public works and other governmental services, yet the burden falls on regular tax payers which creates a defacto subsidy for tax-exempt properties. This recommendation is truly secular, a guiding principle which all levels of government should follow.
  3. Aligns revenue and cost management to the service provided, CFU (CFU has been managing the street light system for nearly 50 years)

Previously, I discussed the general fund dilemma in my 2013 The Sky Doesn't have to Fall post. Since 2013, staff and Council have taken several measures to avert a general fund crisis, especially in light of the recent property tax rollbacks. While nearby cities dip into their emergency, health, or agency levies, Cedar Falls manages most expenses through the general fund levy. This cost transfer frees capacity in the general fund and avoids tax increases.

- Nick's Briefs -

TriCounty Presents...swatvehicle.JPG

The only way to determine efficacy of federal policy is to measure it at the local level. As policy makers entrusted to spend tax dollars, it is our responsibility to understand policy objectives, the tools and the local impacts. If the impacts are harmful, we must implore leaders to change. Some have misconstrued the blog post as an attack on police. It is not. It is an attack on policy, particularly the one that transforms community police officers into covert forces to achieve misguided policy objectives (while failing to meet any and all policy objectives in the process). It is an attack against every politician and special interest group that have perpetrated this 40-year domestic war on citizens of the United States. Those that have flushed over $1 trillion dollars down a toilet playing whack-a-mole while contributing to the largest incarceration rate (including disproportionate minority lock-ups) in the civilized world. Let me know your thoughts, The TriCounty Drug Task Force Presents... 

The post has caught the attention of many, nearly 20,000 reaches alone on Nick Taiber - Councilman at Large page. Eyes are opening, minds are turning. 



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