Sunday, December 04, 2011

update: What to Watch for in the Metro Council Tuesday Dec. 6th

Undoing Limo Price-fixing, Titans Stadium Funding, Privatizing the Tow-in Lot, and School Vouchers

by Rod Williams
update 12/4/2011

The Metro Council Agenda Analysis is now posted.

The Metro Council meeting agenda is now available. You can find the agenda at this link: Metro Council Agenda. The council meetings are more interesting if you have an agenda. However, I watch the council meetings so you don't have to so look for my highlights of the meeting, following the Council meeting. Below is what I see as issue worth watching. The council analysis is not yet posted so I will update this report as more information becomes available.

Resolutions RS2011-95 have to do with issuing bonds for the Titans stadium. There is some concern that the city is issuing 25 year bonds for improvements that will not last 25 years and that the bonds are for a longer period than the lease with the Titans. The bonds are funded by a ticket tax of $2.00. In the event the ticket tax revenues are insufficient to pay the debt service on these revenue bonds, Metro is pledging its non-tax revenues. These revenues include, but are not limited to, permit fees; franchise fees (cable, gas, and telephone); fines; court clerk fees; forfeitures and penalties; charges for services; and revenues from the sale of surplus property. (See the analysis for more.)

BILL NO. BL2011-4 on second reading sponsored by Councilman Stanley to require quarterly stormwater reports to be submitted to the Metropolitan Council. This may seem like a mundane issue but Stanley has argued that the getting of one big annual report does not give the council the ability to adequately monitor the program.  He makes a compelling argument. This bill needs to pass. Stormwater projects can be plums for favored councilmen and also the storm water fund is just too much money for bureaucrats to play with without effective council oversight.

ORDINANCE NO. BL2011-49 on second reading will repeals the $45 minimum fare fee for Limousine service and instead establishes that fares will be determined on a "time-usage basis,"  and that "livery services may also charge a flat rate for transportation between specific points." This seems like an undoing of the bill passed a couple years ago that essentially outlawed economy limo service and led to a law suit against the city. (See here and here.)  I was very disappointing that not a single councilman then in the council voted against the Limo price fixing bill at the time. This is a chance for members of the Council to redeem themselves. Watch this issue to see who is for and who is against price fixing. This issue is clear. If the Republican members and other "good" members of the council don't vote for this bill, I will be greatly disappointed.

BILL NO. BL2011-3. This bill on third reading sponsored by Councilman Tygard has been approved by Parks and Public Works Committees and has been amended. This bill would allow recreational athletic fields and associated structures to be constructed within the floodway. Last council session, Councilman Dominy argued in favor of the bill and Council member Evans argued against it. Evans argued that structures and fences associated with athletic fields could impede the flow of water.

Bill NO. BL2011-31 on third reading sponsored by Councilman Tygard amends an ordinance regarding the acceptance of food and beverages for Metropolitan Government employees, elected officials, and members of boards and commissions. The current law is so stringent that if a councilman attends a neighborhood meeting and partakes of coffee and cookies he could be in violation of the law. This bill restores some common sense and should pass with no problem.

BILL NO. BL2011-39 on third reading approves a contract for United Road Towing to administer the Metro Impound Lot. There was a lot of concern about this bill on the part of towing companies. One concern is that United Road Towing who would operate the tow-in lot also operates a towing company. City officials have explained that United Road Towing has a totally separate management structure for operating the tow-in lot and their towing service would not get any preferential treatment by the operators of the tow-in lot. This bill especially privatizes the tow-in lot and should save the city a lot of money. It deal is structured to benefit the city. United Road Towing operates tow-in lots in other cities and many cities are moving toward contracting for this service rather than operating the tow-in lot themselves. This is a good bill and needs to pass. (For more info see the analysis)

ORDINANCE NO. BL2011-40 (WESTERHOLM, TYGARD & MCGUIRE) This ordinance amends the Metro Code to increase the ticket tax on tickets sold for events at LP Field and to remove the maximum duration for the ticket tax. (To know more read the analysis. This is complicated.)

Memorializing RESOLUTION NO. RS2011-109 (Johnson, Matthews, Bedne) opposes vouchers for private private school tuition. If you believe in education reform and school choice this is a very bad bill and needs to be defeated. This is another issue to watch to see who the real conservatives are on the Council.

There is nothing on the agenda about the Predators arena contract. Why? The city is getting taken to the cleaners by the Predators. If the city does not act, the contract is automatically renewed. I expected a resolution regarding this issue. If someone can tell me why this was not worthy of a resolution asking the Mayor to renegotiate the Predators arena deal I would like to hear from you.

I believe it will be on the agenda in January.

Check back for more updates.

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