Mar 09, 2021 Council Meeting Update

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Item F (Budget 101)

Zach Doud joined the city at the start of the year as our finance director. At that point we stopped contracting AEM for those services. Zach presented an overview of what is involved with a small city government budget.

For the most part this was review for me but with the new members of the council we thought it would be good to get some basics covered. I have asked Zach to put this presentation on the city's web site and when he does it will likely be here.

Item G. (Diamond Lake Regional Trail by Three Rivers Park)

For those of you that have followed this, it's been out there for a few years. It's basically a very rough plan by the Three Rivers Park to link the Corcoran area up through the southwest part of Dayton and up to the Mississippi river. This is NOT a plan to do what they did prior to the 70's where they were condemning property. If a property goes up for sale, and it's on any plans they have for a trail, they will buy it at what the owner is asking. Note to property owners... what they're doing means there's a bigger market for what you're selling 🙂

They've already started purchasing properties along the Mississippi.

While the plan has a lot of minor trails on it, the main trail crosses the freeway at the new interchange and goes up along the west side of French Lake. It'll run along the south side of Diamond lake and wrap around the east side and come up running roughly parallel to the east side of Lawndale.

By the way, most of us will be long gone by the time this trail is complete. But... it's a plan. And, as long as it's a voluntary plan I have no problem with it.

Item H (Strategic plan)

The Strategic plan is something that gives us an idea what we want worked on over time and where we want the city to go. That plan flows into our Long Term plan where we actually put events or capital items on a time line. From that we get an idea of where funds need to be in order to implement those events or items. And from that, and many other things, a budget is produced.

Last month (Here) the council got together to throw out ideas we each wanted to explore. At the next meeting we tried to prioritize them by voting for what we wanted to prioritize. Unfortunately we allowed members to vote multiple times on the same item which skewed things pretty badly. I should have realized this but we've used the same process in previous years. It was clear the resulting plan was not going to be consistent with any Long Term plan since the Long Term Plan is voted on by the council, and I suspect there are major items on that Strategic Plan the majority is not pushing.

For specifics, a new fire station and a water treatment facility were on there for next year. Not happening. Even a cheap version of a treatment facility is going to push $10-$15 million and a new fire station is going to easily push $7M plus. That's around $20M in debt which would double our debt. We're still up to our eyeballs in debt. Add in an economy downturn and we have a disaster.

Another problem is... we have a LOT of minor items I (and fellow members) would like to see dealt with even though they may not take a lot of money or effort.

So... we set up another work session to hammer out a better plan.

Item I (building fees work session)

Expect to see discussions of our fees for the bulk of this year. I am frustrated by this topic because I can see where we need to go with it, but there are 4 other members on the council that have an equal say. And while I agree we have a mess that needs to be cleaned up, it's not the only mess.

This item was to discuss a work session (scheduled later this month) and what we want it to consist of. It looks like we will have an outside source come in to look at what we're doing. So this work session is primarily to define what we want that resource to look at and what their report will cover.

Item K (Police Equipment quotes)

This item is a follow on from a January decision to push off approval of equipment purchase on two new vehicles.

There were a number of issues with that earlier request but the primary issue for me (and others) was the contract would go to an employee of our city. Combined with the price (roughly $40k) a few of us felt it would be good to get bids.

Whenever I see interest conflicts, alarms go off. That doesn't mean there's anything dirty going on, but it does mean we should be completely open about what we're doing and if we can't ensure (and prove) it's perfectly clean we shouldn't be doing it.

That item was moved to a future agenda.