The city council will have a workshop Tuesday evening on the second half of the city departments. This will be the first opportunity for the city council to react to staff plans for the rest of the departments not covered last week, as well as to see how some of the changes proposed last week relate to these departments.
The departments to be covered Tuesday night include: Police, Parks & Recreation, Development, Technology Solutions, Economic Development, and Human Resources. We will also continue our discussion of the Recreation & Aquatic Center Expansion Project.
The Police Department discussion should be pretty straight forward. The underlying question is: How do we put enough uniformed officers on the street to adequately address the crime issues that the city faces. Once we answer that question, the rest of the department budget should fall into place. Red light camera income and expenses flow through the police budget. The current contract with ATS expires about a year from now. Between a declining number of people running red lights and ongoing litigation at the state level regarding the cameras, it doesn’t take a genius to predict that the cameras will all be gone before the end of the next fiscal year. In my opinion, they have become a distraction.
The Parks & Recreation budget will have some significant changes. Last week’s discussion about Public Works included the creation of a division that will handle maintenance chores for the city. This means that the Parks Department will no longer have to deal with keeping up the appearance of the parks and other facilities. A single maintenance division should be more efficient that having maintenance individuals in each of the departments. In the case of Parks & Recreation, this should allow the department to concentrate on programming instead of housekeeping.
I’m not sure what staff will propose for the Development department. I know we’ve added staff over the last year.
The presentation on Technology Solutions should be interesting. The city is in the middle of an IT conversion that has been taking longer than any of us had hoped for. With any luck, 2015-2016 will see the completion of this process.
One of the first noticeable changes was issuing city council members iPads to replace the reams of paper that the city used to generate for meeting agendas. The goal is to have a searchable online database of city agendas that members of the public can access. There will be improvements to the city’s website as well.
As part of the IT conversion, we will be bringing billing “in-house”, allowing utility customers to pay water bills online. It’s all good, but it is taking a lot of time.
Our Economic Development department has been doing quite a bit this past year. I expect we will see some proposals to take our development efforts to the next level. I’m looking forward to hearing the specifics Tuesday night.
Human Resources will be the final department budget to look at Tuesday night. HR is pretty much ignored except when something blows up. I’m not aware of any big initiatives in HR for the coming year, but will still be looking forward to learning what the department has in mind for the next year.
The last item on tomorrow night’s workshop agenda will be a continuation of the discussion we started last week regarding the proposed Recreation & Aquatic Center Expansion Project. The proposal last week was pretty aggressive in its scope. I suspect all of us are interested in how staff proposes we pay for these much needed improvements.
The workshop starts at 5:00pm. We’ll take a dinner break at 6:30 if the workshop runs more than 90 minutes. My bet is that the workshop will run long.