Tuesday night two residents addressed the common council, both about the fire stations. Jim Mathes, who lives at the city's westernmost address south of the interstate, addressed the council first. He said that the city was embarking on “a pure waste of money”. My family does not require a degradation of response time to the eastside to “help” me, he said.
He added that the relocation would pit eastside against westside. As for relations with the Town, he admonished that BOTH sides needed to GROW UP. Please work with the Town, save us money and get rid of the boarder wars
, he urged. His parting words were cautionary: The Town is good at negotiating!
Second to speak out was Renee Lowerr. She also urged our city to find a solution with the Town. She added that the hotels do not feel valued if the city moves station #3. The hotels wrote to the city
about their concerns over station #3’s relocation but did not receive any response from the city. She said, “I want someone to ask why this was overlooked?” Renee closed by stating that the firefighters have a lot of respect and confidence in each other, why can’t the Town and City get along?
“Maybe 38 years of not getting along, Mr. Speaker, needs to stop. Let’s combine our energy. I am only speaking with one voice, but I am speaking for many.”
The meeting then proceeded. After a few oral votes on various bits of business, the council started discussing cooperation with the Town. The city attorney went through a long history of the tried and failed attempts of the Town to incorporate.
Dean Marquardt, pointed out that many of the aldermen were not involved in the talks and gave a time line of Town/City events. The dates ranged from Aug. 2004 – Sept. 2006. The bottom line was, the Town wants a border agreement and they do not want any further annexation to the City.
Dan Ertl, Director of Community Development, then addresses the council. His comments will be the topic of my next blog: Sorry Mr. Ertl, I really don’t see much difference.
Alderman Jerry Mellone asked if that previous offer of $804,000 to the Town to provide fire/EMS service was a verbal offer or in writing? Dean Marquardt explained that since there was no Common Council approval, it was not official. In other words, it was not in writing.
Lisa Mellone was curious to know how the decision was made as to who was at these Town/City meetings. Why was no elected official present there?
(Good point, Lisa.) That brought up a whole new discussion. The city attorney said there was no real policy on this; evidentially the council didn’t feel it necessary to have an elected official there at the time.
Mayor Speaker added, it was decided not to have elected officials there because they were not trained negotiators
. But Lisa thought that since the Town had elected officials there, we should have them too. I would hope we would in the future, she said. (Later she clarifies that she felt if elected persons were there it would help take heat off of staff.)
Marquardt quickly added, When Henderson was there, the Mayor was there.
Bob Reddin then pointed out that there should be a transcript or record of some sort of these meetings. Dan Sutton was still chewing on the mayor’s reason that no council members were there because they were not trained negotiators. So Dan asked what training would we go through?
Now Mayor Speaker said, maybe I misspoke. I meant attorneys are trained more than say, I go in as a police officer. (I thought he was the mayor?)
Dan Sutton restates, I hope in the future, I hope council (member/s) can be there, so we won’t have to hear, He said/She said.
All I know is what staff tells me—and I don’t know! I wish there was a concrete record we could go back to.
Gary Mahkorn defends the integrity of the staff. Dan replies, I have respect for staff, but 6 people will have 6 differing opinions (of what happened), but we (at council meetings) have minutes and vote on them—we have a record. Gary replies that we need to establish protocol; we don’t always want an elected official there. The staff has no hidden motivation—they take their marching orders from the council.
Now the mayor expresses concerns that they may be getting into some negotiations issues that should not be in the open. Before they go to closed session, Alderman Berg asks if the attorney could give the public some idea of what would be discussed in closed session. Karen lists a few things like: protective services, boundaries, and the makeup of the meetings.
Rick Owen adds that we need someone taking notes. One last subject is discussed. Mark Nelson asks about the RA Smith study. There seemed to be a lot of back and forth about that study. Did the Town ever cooperate in the RA Smith study?
The mayor says we were only able to get information through open records, but they did not want to participate or put any money toward it.
Now, I don’t find that too surprising since I thought the study was about annexation. Wouldn’t that rather be like asking Midwest Express to help pay for a feasibility study of what it would mean to have Airtran take them over?
They went into closed session shortly after this.