Monday, March 31, 2014

What is on the Council Agenda April 1, with commentary and analysis.

Council meetings can be really boring it you don't know what the Council is voting on. When you do, they are still boring, but not quite as boring. To get your own copy of the Council agenda click here; to get your copy of the agenda analysis you can download it here.

There are 16 bills on public hearing. They are mostly zoning bills except for couple and they would interest no one except neighbors of the proposed rezoning. Here are a couple of interest:

  • BILL NO. BL2014-714 is a text change that would require new development or expansions in certain zoned districts to provide parking spaces for bicycles. 
  • BILL NO. BL2014-715 would require the zoning application fees and public hearing notice costs be borne by the city for amendments to the official zoning map initiated by a member or members of the Metropolitan Council. The Director of Finance has said this would cost over $93,000 a year and has not approved it for availability of funds.
There are sixteen resolutions on the consent agenda. A bill is put on the consent agenda if it is assumed to be non-controversial and it stays on the consent agenda unless it fails to pass the committee to which it was assigned unanimously. Any council member may have a bill pulled off of the consent agenda. Here is a bill of interest:
RESOLUTION NO. RS2014-1031 appropriates over $9 million to various agencies from the 4% fund to fund departments that exceeded their budget. The largest is $5.2 million to the hospital authority to fund the transition payments to employees of the nursing homes metro is privatizing. Some of this money will be offset from payments to the city from the companies taking over the two metro facilities. 

$714,900 is going to Farmers market. Farmers market continues to be an expensive drain on the city and cannot break even. They got a subsidy of $214,600 in this year’s budget and now need an additional $714,900. I would hope some council member would take the Farmers Market to task for their failure to operate efficiently and let it be known that they must figure out how to be self-sufficient or at least operate on a much smaller subsidy. It appears to me that the market is not really a farmers market where farmers can sell in bulk to retailers such as restaurants and grocery stores but is designed to cater only to consumers who purchase for their own use. I like the farmers market myself and in the summer I go about once a week, but it is not really a farmers market. To support farmers, farmers need to be able to sell bushels of tomatoes at a time time not four or five at a time.

There are 17 bills on First Reading. First reading is a formality that allows bills to be on the agenda. Merits of the bills are not discussed until second reading. I have not reviewed the bills on first reading.

Bills on Second Reading: BILL NO. BL2014-696 would amend the Metro code to require the Director of Finance to submit an annual debt report to the Metropolitan Council. This is a good bill and deserves to pass.

Bills on Third Reading:BILL NO. BL2014-699 expands the Tax Increment Financing capacity of the city by modifying several redevelopment zones. Some redevelopment district that were to expire are extended another ten years. Other districts have their maximum TIF capacity increased. TIF is a form of financing, whereby a loan is repaid with the additional tax income the development generates. This development tool has been used to finance such projects as the County Music Hall of Fame and the Omni Hotel. This ordinance does not appropriate any money but increases the lending capacity. TIF is an important tool to encourage downtown development.

RESOLUTION NO. RS2014-1029 is a memorializing resolution asking the state to provide driver’s license in Arabic. This resolution will probably be on the consent agenda. In addition to English, drivers license test are now offered in Spanish, Korean, and Japanese.

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