Tonight was my first real City Council meeting, as our meeting two weeks ago was mostly ceremonial. I plan to give updates after every City Council meeting via Front Porch Forum, and I always welcome any input that anyone has on these important issues facing our community.
I’ll update you on our 4/15 meeting, but first let you know what happened at the 4/1 swearing in ceremony.
Two weeks ago, I was sworn in (along with the other two newly elected Councilors – Paulino and Freeman), and the Council elected Kurt Wright to another one year term as Council President. He was the only one to seek the position and was elected unanimously. We also elected a Board of Finance (BOF). The BOF reviews the budget and other items that deal with city spending. It is arguably the most powerful and influential committee of the council. As Council President, Councilor Wright automatically gets a seat on this committee, and so does the Mayor. In addition to them, we elected Councilors Pine, Bushor, Paul to the BOF.
Last night (4/15) we had our first true meeting. The bulk of the meeting was devoted to one item: Water Resources proposed staffing changes for FY2020. Water Resources (WR) is our water utility, they manage our potable water, stormwater, and wastewater. They are understaffed and struggling to keep up with ongoing and emerging issues, and are hindered in their ability to innovate and prepare for long-term challenges and opportunities. They are therefore asking for 3 additional staff, and the reclassification of 3 existing staff. In my opinion, WR is doing a tremendous job given the circumstances, and I am supportive of what they are asking for. That being said, there is a trade-off to these critical improvements: they will cause $1.70/month in rate increases for a typical ratepayer (someone who uses 600 cubic feet per month).
I supported and advocated for postponing our decision on this item until our next council meeting in two weeks. The move to postpone passed 8-4. The main reason I supported this is because I want you all to have the opportunity to engage and weigh in on this. Please reach out to me if you have any questions or thoughts! I also wanted more time to ensure the union was comfortable with and supportive of these changes. Finally, I wanted to ensure that the resolution includes a commitment for WR to move to a progressive rate structure so that those with means pay more of the burden, and those struggling to make ends meet pay less. I’ll be working on that amendment and will make sure that it makes it into the resolution that we will consider in two weeks.
As I said, I’m supportive of the proposed changes, and I’m happy to discuss why with anyone who is interested. I hope to hear from many of you soon!
Jack Hanson, East District City Councilor