Monday, April 4, 2016

Further Council Actions

After a long public hearing in which most speakers addressed school funding, the Common Council voted on a number of issues facing the city.

It approved the creation of a building committee to oversee construction of a banquet/boathouse facility. The committee consists of Gerry Daley (Chair), Joseph Samolis (Vice Chair), Wendy Sheil, Jeff Clark, Jen Alexander, Lynda MacPherson, Angela Wong, Dan Cunningham, and August Defrance. The committee will be staffed by Michiel Wackers and Chris Holden.

The Council postponed a decision on the oversight of the expenditure of the $33M Parks Bond that was approved in last year's election.  Councilman Grady Faulkner asked that the committees overseeing this money be diverse, with representation of minorities or organizations that advocate on their behalf.

The Council voted to provide funding for 3 successful Main Street events: Motorcycle Mania, Cruise on Main, and the 5k Fun Run.

Tax Abatement For Ward Street Multifamily Development Approved
The Council voted to extend a property tax subsidy to the developer of a multi-family unit on Ward Street. During the public hearing, two residents had spoken out against this tax abatement (full disclosure: I was one of them), arguing that in the current fiscal environment the city could not afford to subsidize developers.

Councilman Daley, who serves as Chair of the Economic Development Commission, explained that the tax abatements were justified because the developer had failed to anticipate some of the costs of construction. These included requests by the Design and Review Board to modify the fa├žade, unanticipatedly lower gas pressure in the gas main, and installation of sprinklers.

Councilman Rob Blanchard was the only one who did not support the abatement. He said that tax abatements such as this caused others to pay more, while some received a break. He pointed to the difficulty of funding the schools, "A tax abatement at this time is asinine."

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