Archive for Thursday, January 6, 2005

New council locale doesn’t change discussion topics

January 6, 2005

There was a new "venue" for Monday night's Baldwin City Council meeting, but the topics remained the same for the most part.

After meeting at the Baldwin City Public Library for years, the council set up shop at the American Legion Hall. It was the result of an agreement between the city and the Legion last month, outlining additional usage by the city, which owns the building.

The council wanted to make the move to do away with the disruptions of people coming in and out of the library during meetings. After an adjustment to the heating system to get rid of that noise so everyone could hear, the new council site worked fine, including a place to go for executive session instead of emptying the room.

But, the new site still had old topics. The council again discussed the purchase of a new vehicle and council member Ted Brecheisen Jr. again expressed his objections. The stops signs installed this year at Eighth and Dearborn again brought a round of talks. And, the cereal malt beverage licenses for three local businesses that ran afoul with delays at the last meeting were approved.

"Three businesses applied, all three passed, licenses were issued and they were able to have them this weekend," said City Administrator Jeff Dingman.

Those were Santa Fe Market, Kwik Shop and the Salt Mine.

A motion was approved 4-1 to purchase a Ford Ranger pickup for the utility department for $13,334.50. Brecheisen voted against the measure.

"I just can't see us having a fleet of new vehicles," said Brecheisen. "I don't see why we can't save money. This is five new vehicles we've bought in the past month. We've spent $75,000 for vehicles the past month and I think that's too many for a city our size."

As in the past meetings were vehicle replacement was discussed, it came down to budgeted items and getting on a schedule so that old vehicles with hundreds of thousands of miles on them are what's left and have no trade-in value when they are finally replaced.

"We've had several discussions about getting on a rotation so we aren't having to work on vehicles all the time," said council member Amy Cleavinger. "That is not a good use of our money. I think we have a responsibility to provide reliable vehicles."

Council member Ken Wagner also pointed to the fact, again, that the purchases were budgeted.

"I have a hard time voting against something like this when it comes to this point," said Wagner. "If it's in the budget, we should do it."

What Brecheisen wants is a reduction in utility rates instead of purchasing vehicles.

"We need to look at a half-cent reduction in our utility rates," he said.

Mayor Ken Hayes said that Brecheisen and Wagner, both members of the utility committee, can look into that idea.

"Why don't you look at the whole rate structure and see what you can come up with," Hayes said. "I think this group would look at anything."

"We'll pile over pounds of paper on it," said Wagner.

As for the stop signs, council member Nancy Brown, a member of the safety committee, reminded the council that they will be discussed by the committee at 4 p.m. Monday at the public works office. The public is invited to attend and provide opinions.

"The reason we're revisiting the stop sign issue at this time is to try and find a compromise with the need for pedestrian safety with convenience for motorists," Brown told the Signal Monday.

Some have suggested that at least the stop signs on Eighth Street be changed to yield signs. Brown wouldn't endorse that.

"I'm not willing to comment on it," she said. "We've got city staff looking at things. Until we have all the options on the table, I don't think it would be right to say anything. As far as I'm concerned, all options are open."

At Monday's meeting Cleavinger brought up her concerns about protecting younger children having to cross the highway and County Road 1055.

"Is there any reason we can't start digging on this," she said. "We talk about it and talk about it, but why don't we do something about it?"

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