Sunday, June 9, 2013

May 29 Workshop Meeting Summary

Here is a brief summary of last Wednesday's Council workshop meeting, which took place on May 29, 2013. You can view the official minutes here. As usual, this summary will not contain every detail of the meeting. Please refer to the official City minutes once posted.

City Attorney Report

City Attorney Frank Kruppenbacher reported that he is still looking into various issues related to our City Manager contract. He stated that he is still researching the salary issue, including comparable local salaries. After the meeting, he confirmed that he is also still reviewing Mr. Severns' eligibility for the position. As you may recall, there is a question of whether our present City Manager, Keith Severns, is even eligible for the position.

As I have previously noted, Section 4.07 of the City Charter states that "a person who has served as a commissioner or mayor of the city shall be ineligible for appointment to the office of city manager for two years following the end of the term of office."

Although Mr. Severns resigned as City Commissioner over two years ago, his "term of office" just ended in March 2013. This is because the City Charter distinguishes between an official's term of office and his or her actual dates of service. For example, Section 4.02 regarding the Mayor states that the Mayor "shall be elected for a term of three (3) years and shall serve until a successor takes office" - clearly distinguishing between an official's elected term and the length of time actually served in the position. Since Mr. Severns' "term of office" as City Commissioner did not end until three years from the date he was elected in March 2010, he would not eligible to serve as our City Manager until two years later in March 2015.

Charter School Debt Service Fund Followup

A representative from McDermitt-Davis spoke to the Council again to clarify some lingering questions regarding the Charter School Debt Service Fund. She stated that the fund's sole purpose is to receive rent and pay bond payments. Upon later questioning, the representative and Mayor Brooks stated that the only money that ever goes into this fund are proceeds from the bond and rent revenue from the school - no City funds of any kind will ever go into the Debt Service Fund.

They further stated that neither the City Manager, nor anyone else at city hall, has direct access to these funds, since they are being held in trust and must be disbursed by the trustee. The Mayor also retracted his statement at the May 7 meeting that there was a $300,000 arithmetic error in Resolution 13-02, which created this debt service fund. Assuming there is no arithmetic error in the resolution, it is unclear how this $300,000 discrepancy can then be explained.

Mayor's Report

Mayor Brooks discussed the safety problems that come from allowing large boats, such as 30+ foot cigarette boats, to operate in the Conway Lakes. The mayor suggested formation of a committee to study limits on boat length, size or loudness. With regard to the speeding issue, it was stated at the meeting that police officers are unable to enforce speed limits on the lake. There was a question of whether our City needs a new ordinance to allow us to enforce speed limits. There may be more to this enforcement issue, so I'll post more information if it becomes available.

Commissioner Readey's Report

Commissioner Readey again followed up on the Bernstein Ordinance. The Council confirmed the City's plans regarding one crucial aspect of this ordinance - the requirement that notices of eligibility dates be sent both by postal mail and e-mail. I believe there are other important aspects of this ordinance that need to be clarified before it is finalized, as described in my prior article on the Bernstein Ordinance.

Commissioner Readey also discussed the City's problem with a park in Conway East, where the previous three pool retention system was replaced with a decorative waterfall. By removing the natural filtration provided by the three pool system, the City defeated the water quality measures that prevented toxins and debris from entering the lake. Furthermore, the waterfall has broken repeatedly and has not been running for quite some time. Apparently, the City Manager is working with an engineer to address these problems.

Modification of the Belle Isle Dock Ordinance

Belle Isle resident David Woods, chairman of the Belle Isle Planning and Zoning Board, made a citizen presentation regarding modification of Belle Isle's dock ordinance. Basically, his presentation centered around creation of a ordinance that will base permissible dock length on historic water level variations. His proposed ordinance can automatically modify itself based on variations in the lake's water level over long periods of time.

Many residents commented on how impressed they were regarding the amount of time and effort Mr. Woods' put into his ideas and presentation. Those interested can read a complete copy of the presentation slides, attached to last Wednesday's meeting agenda. It is unclear at this time whether the Council plans to act on Mr. Woods' suggestions.

Resident Comments

Many Belle Isle residents made comments at the meeting, including Charleen Kennedy who discussed a local property needing vegetation replaced and Sarah Goodwin who requested the City's assistance in raising $8,000 in funds for a playground project in Belle Isle. Mayor Brooks commented at the meeting that residents were being permitted to speak because this was a "special" meeting of the Council. Indeed, the City's agenda states that it was a "Special Meeting."

The purpose of a special meeting is so that the Council can hold an additional or emergency meeting when required. Belle Isle Ordinance 2-52 states as follows:

"Special meetings may be held on the call of the mayor or a majority of the commissioners and, whenever practicable, upon no less than twelve (12) hours' notice to each commissioner and the public. All meetings shall be public."

What qualified last Wednesday's regularly scheduled Council workshop meeting as a "special" meeting? And what is the connection between designating the meeting as "special" and residents' rights to speak?

Unfortunately, these questions couldn't be addressed at the June 4 Council meeting because it was cancelled at the last minute by Mayor Brooks. Although the June 4 meeting could have been easily rescheduled to another date in June by vote of the Council at the last workshop meeting, Mayor Brooks chose to instead cancel the June meeting entirely, in clear violation of Belle Isle law.

1 comment:

  1. I believe the park you mentioned in you email is Gene Polk park at the end of Delia Ave. It truly is a mess. Conway east has a wash out. Commiissioner Readey has tried to help both areas.

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