Council Chambers, 220 Clay St, Cedar Falls, IA 50613
Golf fees, parking bans, fire protection, pavement management, and the last divisional report. I remark on it all.
-Committee of the Whole (5:00pm, ELECTRONIC AGENDA & PACKET)-
In Committee, we review two Planning and Zoning appointments, the Pavement Management Plan, the Finance & Business Operations Division report, and Bills and Payroll.
Each year, our four divisional directors (Community Development, Municipal Operations & Programs, Public Safety and Finance & Business Operations) present divisional updates and priorities as input for City Council's annual goal setting sessions. Jennifer Rodenbeck, Finance and Business Operations Director, finishes off the series of reports. After the election, we will go into goal setting mode where we determine budget, planning and policy priorities for the upcoming year and beyond.
One of the most significant programs in the city, the Pavement Management Plan, will be presented. The plan guides our road repair and replacement priorities utilizing voter-approved, Local Options Sales Tax ("LOST") revenues. In 2016, we will finish State and College Street and begin West 4th, Ellen, South Lawn Drive. In 2017, we will finish 4th Street (west of Hudson) and begin considerations for Main Street. Based on feedback, we need to take a careful look at 4th to determine how to improve flow, bike/ped accommodations and parking, especially around Hansen/Holmes schools. On Main St., we have an opportunity to make the important north-south arterial function better to improve flow and accommodation. I will share my thoughts and vision for 2017+ road projects when the time nears... at this point, we are determining funding priority and timing.
-Regular Council Meeting (7:00pm, ELECTRONIC AGENDA & PACKET)-
G.2.D) Cheap golf has become a right in Cedar Falls. By recommendation of the Park and Rec Commission and approved each year by Council, fees have held steady since 2011. This is a terrific deal for golfers, a raw deal for the general property tax payer. Taxpayers have subsidized golfers to the tune of $660,000 since that time. Sure, one could argue that golf is an essential quality of life amenity worthy of generous general fund support. But do the players really need the subsidy? Do subsidies bring otherwise means-challenged people to the sport? Is golf demand so elastic that raising the price to a market-rate would decimate our golfing population? Does golf serve all demographic groups? Frequently the counter-argument for subsidies is that parks and trails are subsidized. This is a loose comparison as parks and trails are open, multi-functional public spaces; there is no price of admission and the barriers to entry are quite low. Golf on the other hand, requires clubs, balls, tees shoes, carts (for some), time and a green fee. It serves a very limited, older, well-to-do population. There is no shortage of golf options, including private alternatives. I am betting golfers are not struggling to find bus fare or to feed their families. Our country is in the midst of the greatest intergenerational wealth transfer in the history of the United States. We have burdened future generation with trillions of dollars resulting from deficit spending on wars, entitlements and federal programs. It seems we could ask golfers to pay the true cost of the activity and forgo taxpayer support.
G.3) This item relates to a citizen group's request to ban parking on Bluegrass Circle, one of the newest loop roads in the Pinnacle Prairie area. Aside from temporary construction equipment, Bluegrass Circle has few cars parking on it, let alone driving on it. At 31', the road is perfectly capable to handle parking on both sides while accommodating two-way traffic and emergency vehicles. Furthermore, all the residential developments are designed with ample off-street parking for dwellers and visitors. The no-parking zone request is premature, a proposed solution to an anticipated problem. I prefer to focus on problems of today rather than predicting and responding to the unlikely possibilities of the future. We don't have a parking problem, so why ban it?
- Nick's Briefs -
I need to soap box a bit. There are certain people that will use tragedy to their own advantage. There was a recent fire on Seerley Boulevard. Our Fire Department's response was textbook - fast and effective. Since the fire originated in a garage, there was no early detection - no smoke alarms, no passersby. The fire was full-on. Response time beat industry standards, and the crew did an exceptional job evaluating and responding to life and property risk. The incident is now being used by union representatives to build a case for more staffing, some would say double or tripling of staffing (at least a $1 million addition). The union representative publicly criticized the current process, he condemns cross-training efforts reinforcing hostilities among first responders, and inflames irrational fears that our city is not safe. Our city is safe. We have more certified firefighters than at any time during my time on council and adding more. In fact, we have a Class 3 ISO rating (an independent fire protection rating) which places us in the top 1% in the state for fire protection. As a council, we are striving to align resources, build capabilities, and continually improve our total public safety program to maximize the value to our citizen shareholders. False alarms are not needed.
Improving Public Safety Response: Compressed Air Foam System
This is an innovative fire suppression system that enables rapid response to fire incidents with our police patrols on the street. Three vehicles are now outfitted with this system and officers are being trained. The impact on incident response has been notable. It reduces response time, reduces costs, and improves incident outcomes. This is just one of many tools being deployed to improve our incident response capabilities.