The City Council meeting was not quite as long as I predicted. They adjourned a little after 9:00. But it certainly was entertaining, complete with presentations on color coded boards.
The first order of business was Resolution R-09-24 (The Master Plan) Maury Goldberg and Greg Sekula spoke in favor of it's passage. (I had done the same at a previous meeting and should have again tonight).
Jameson Bledsoe expressed concerns about the lack of information given out beforehand. As a developer he was afraid he might be passed over for consideration in favor of developers with deeper pockets. He said that small business people are at a disadvantage when planning "green" buildings because of the cost involved. Scott Wood addressed this issue a little later saying that no developers were pushed aside although some did drop out when the market took a dive.
After MUCH discussion the Resolution passed 7 aye's 1 abstain (Mr. Price) and 1 no (Mr. Coffey).
The rest of the agenda consisted mostly of Appropriation Resolutions, which basically means moving money from one fund to another.
The last item was an Ordinance to rezone 2 1/2 acres on State St. near Target from R2, residential to C2, general business, no problem.
The meeting got pretty lively during the time for city officials to speak. And speak they did. Mr. Price asked Mrs. Garry about several items in the budget including over payments, mileage logs, and cell phones. She replied that the over payments resulted when department heads turn in two claims for the same expense but that has been resolved. She went on to explain that she has no control over the mileage logs or cell phone usage. But that a police officer did repay a cell phone bill a few years ago due to personal use.
Just about everyone expressed their opinion on the audit. Mr. Coffey said it was incomplete, Mr. Price's concerns are mentioned above. Mr. Zurschmeide said he contacted Charlie Pride, the head of the State Board of Accounts. Mr. Pride explained that the audit was not politically motivated and the city cannot pay another accounting firm to duplicate this audit. Mr. Coffey said there was a disclaimer on the audit stating that it was not complete. Mr. Zurschmeide suggested that someone from the State Board of Accounts, preferably Mr. Pride come and meet with the council.
Mr. Coffey wants to meet the the council next Tuesday and Wednesday to go over the 2009 and 2010 budgets to see where cuts can be made. Mr. Gahan asked if this meant the budget would be rescinded. Mr. Coffey replied that the council is allowed to make changes.
Mayor England was visibly upset when he took the podium. He compared the discussions to a witch hunt. He also mentioned Mr. Pride and his quote in the Tribune where he stated that there was no money missing but New Albany needs a better computer system and the Controllers Office needs more employees.
He went on to say that the budget for 2010 will be 1.5 million short due to a decrease in property taxes and that the Governor told him that the cities need the LOIT tax to make up the difference. He urged the City Council to work with the County Council and the Commissioners to pass the LOIT tax, and added that that was the solution for Clark Co. Personally, from what I have seen the LOIT tax is about as popular as H1N1. He also added that the problem was not overspending but under funding.
There was more discussion but these are the main points. Stay tuned.