July 26, 2022 Council Meeting

Agenda (click to open)

View the meeting (click to open)

Water update:

The new pump is being installed. No word yet on why the previous one failed. It was under warranty. It sounds like it'll be back up sometime next week if all goes well.

Item F1 (Deputy Clerk resignation)

Our Deputy Clerk was able to take a position with the city of Rogers as a full Clerk. While I'm sorry to see her go, for her it's a step up and a good amount of salary increase so I don't blame her a bit. It also means we'll now be looking for someone to fill her shoes.

Item G (Mississippi Corridor)

The city is required to update our ordinances and policies due to an update in the regulations governing the Mississippi River Critical Corridor Area. If you are curious about the details, the entire thing is in the packet. One more layer of rules that people in those areas have to pay attention to.

(Item H) General Fund Budget

Another discussion in the constant debate over how much money is pulled from residents and where it gets spent. This one covered the general fund budget (spending and taxing) and accounts for the bulk of the spending. There are a lot of details in the information, and much of it we've already covered to some extent.

The taxes you pay are driven by the tax rate and your property value. That tax rate is roughly derived from the total property tax the city takes divided by the capacity. Capacity is proportional to the total private property values. In my opinion, here is where previous city leaders made significant mistakes. If the capacity increases by 15% (due to new houses), the spending can increase by 15%, resulting in the rate staying the same. City leaders then get to tell you they didn't raise the rate and "we can't help if your property value increased!" That's where I have and do call BS.

If those same leaders had SIMPLY kept spending increases proportional to the increases in new houses, you would have seen a significant reduction in the tax rate, and your taxes.

Another way previous city leaders have errored is allowing spending to additionally consume any reductions in debt payments (we've had 4 or so in recent years). Think of it as a car you have finally paid off, and you "get" to use that money for a new expense. Your overall income doesn't need to increase but you managed to spend more money.

The current state of discussions is that staff is asking for a 16% increase in spending.  That to me is a non-starter. There are some mitigating factors here though. For one, we have one of those debts expiring. Additionally, we still have some of the "free" (don't you love that term?) money we received from the feds. In addition, our capacity is up significantly. So while all of these will be to the resident's favor, I still see a lot of "wants" in the budget even though the claim is they're all needs. In up coming discussions we'll be going over those items. If I can be convinced those items are needed I'll be ok with them, but there's a few of them that will significantly impact that increase.

(Item I) CUP for a new garage

Normally something this straight-forward I'd likely leave out, but in this case it did uncover a few issues we have with our zoning ordinances. For one, we have a limit in the overall square footage allowed for accessory buildings. What's messy is smaller buildings (64 sq feet) aren't included in that number. But, a permit isn't required for buildings smaller than 200 sq feet. And while a resident could try to fill their property with 200 sq foot buildings, it's not likely. Hence, we'll be working on a change to that ordinance. The CUP was required because it exceeded the maximum height by 4 feet. And I suspect we'll be looking at that also.

(Item J) Property Rezoning

A number of properties along the north side of the river road are currently zoned A1. The downside of that is there is a restriction on impermeable surface of 10%. That meant that at least one property owner was limited in the accessory building he wanted to build. The end result was that property owner talked to his neighbors and they all agreed to request a rezoning of their properties to RE zoning. That zoning now allows them up to 25% for impermeable surfaces. Hat's off to him for digging in and asking the city to work with him on a solution. Most people would likely have given up.

(Closed Session)

All I can say about this is it was a discussion with our attorney regarding a pending law suit against the city.

As usual feel free to contact me!