Friday, March 22, 2019

Three Public Hearings at Monday March 25 BMA Meeting

Every BMA meeting has a "Citizens to be Heard" agenda item, where members of the public may voice their opinions on various subjects. Separately, changes in ordinances require that public hearings be held. Ordinance changes require three readings, and the second reading always includes a "public hearing". There is a three minute time limit for speaking at the public hearing. Three ordinances will be read for the second time this coming Monday; thus, there are three public hearings.

The meeting notice is here: 

The public hearings:  

The entire red-lined parkland dedication fee ordinance change is found here:   

City Description:

Although I support the idea of public parks, I have serious concerns that, as written, this ordinance may be unconstitutional. It is a "fiscal impact fee", and, as such, the fee may not be used for the benefit of the general citizenry, but only for items that the project impacts directly  If a developer is charged a fee for parkland dedication, the fee must be "roughly proportional" to the usage of the park by the residents of the development.  On February 27, I wrote an email to the aldermen explaining my position: The entire email is linked here. An excerpt:

I suggest the inclusion of additional language along these lines: “In determining the amount of the fee to be charged the developer, the City will consider the distance from the new residential project to the newly acquired parkland, or to the existing parkland to be improved, and ensure that the developer is charged a a fee that is roughly proportional to the anticipated usage of the parkland by the residents of the new project.”

Additionally, this ordinance shifts power from the citizen led Park Commission to the City Administration (Parks Director), and I oppose that portion of the legislation. 

I discussed my concerns previously at the Planning Commission Meeting (see my November 11 post).  

The entire tree ordinance is found here:   

I previously discussed some of my issues with the proposed tree ordinance at the Planning Commission Meeting (discussed in my November 11 post). Fortunately one of my major concerns has been addressed, because at least the mandatory nature of the "maximum" fee a development must pay has been eliminated. Now, the maximum has conditions, and must be approved. 

My other concern-- that these fees could be used for storm cleanup which ordinarily would be charged to operating expenses-- remains.

Overall, now that the maximum fee concern has been addressed, the City is better off having this ordinance change than not, although I certainly would have written it differently. 

The entire proposed purchasing ordinance is found here:  

The Administration explanation:   

Increasing the limit for public advertisement and competitive sealed bids from $10,000 to $25,000 is more efficient, but does it save the City money? Yes, the State now allows the City to make this change, but there is no requirement to do so. Additionally, there is less transparency when the BMA does not vote on these contracts.

1 comment:

  1. I think there's some unnecessary confusion about the purchasing ordinance. The change is for the threshold of competitive bids for purchases, not for BMA approvals. All purchases have been voted on by the BMA as part of the budgeting process. Additionally, the BMA must approve any project before it begins, regardless of the price. So, ALL projects are brought before the board TWICE, have discussion and transparency TWICE, and receive approval TWICE before they begin. There is plenty of transparency and public notice of all of these.

    The difference here is that very few businesses are interested in submitting bids in the $10,000-$25,000 price range. So, we get very few bids, meaning that we are often forced to choose from inferior providers or pay higher prices. Additionally, since surrounding municipalities aren't requiring a long and expensive bid process, the providers usually go to those other municipalities and book their work, meaning that there's nobody left to do our work.

    Wanting to delay projects and vote three times on each little expenditure sounds a lot like federal government-style red tape. In the end, we would get the same amount of transparency, but spend a lot more money for items and wait a lot longer to get them.