Notes from tonight’s City Council meeting.
No one spoke at the public hearing for A-09-07-22.
North Anthony project: Hipskind was the lowest, $510,560.75 bid. Â Pam Holocher is talking about the project. Â “This is a community development project in that it reallly sustains neighborhoods, a project we really like to be involved with.” Â Taking out a lane, adding green space and bicycle lanes. Â Vision for the project came from property owners five years ago.
It Â has taken so long because of the community input with this project. Â Number of drive cuts Â was over 20 to start with, now reduced to 11. Â There will be two bus huts installed and colored crosswalks. Â On the north end will be some new modern traffic signals. Â The neighborhood group has collected funds to allow for other ornamentation to be installed. Â They want for the project to be done in this construction season. Â Several businesses have applied for facade grants.
Karen Goldner: The neighborhood has been supportive and raised funds and been engaged in the design phase of the project. Â It is really not possible to take any vehicle other than a car from the south end to the north end of the corrridor in a safe way. Â It is an improvement in many ways.
John Shoaff: Bouleavard was one of the original avenues identified by George Kessler. Â Is there a reason why we don’t see more trees? Â Pam – Signage of businesses. Â Every cut was a joint decision between owners and the City. Â Didn’t want to create a hardship for any of the businesses. “We would have loved to put in more trees.”
Liz Brown: Every landowner agreed to cuts? Â Yes. Â They will be signing off on easements to preserve this. Â Had to choose one side or the other. Â One – more curb cuts on west side and it was also a direct connnection to the Rivergreenway. Â No federal dollars in the project. Â Permission has been granted by owners for the bus hut locations. Â Citilink is Â paying for the construction of the huts.
Passed out of committee with “Do Pass”, 9-0.
$1.2 million last year; Â $416k until June, in legal costs to defend city against claims against the police. Â Seems to run in ten year cycles. Â Passed out of Committee with “Do Pass”, 8-1.
Liz Brown: Does not affect any current retired, but going forward, the State requries municipalities to provide insurance at retirement, until the age of 65. Â Law requires us to provide it, does not say we have to pay for it. Â Going forward, employees would share more in the premiums.
Tom Didier: What concessions were made by the employees when the current agreement was made? Â It needs to go to the bargaining table before we can make a decision. Â May not be the right time for this.
Liz Brown: responding that those involved in those negotiations would not be affected as the negotiations were 10 years ago vs. Â City is loosing more money across the board on health insurance. Â This isn’t about the union – it’s about them paying a portion of their insurance. Â “It’s the tail wagging the dog,” in reference to the unions. Â Drew a rumble from the crowd. Â There was a lot of lobbying to not introduce the bill, none about having a conversation. Â I am open to dialogue.
Marty Bender: City had negotiated with all public safety unions, in lieu of concessions, city offered benefits we currently have. Â All concessions and health plan was negotiated in good faith. Â This ordinance violates the collective bargaining ordinance we have.
Glynn Hines: One of the things this Council does is tries not to get involved in the negotiations. Â It was a long drawn-out negotiation. Â In this case, you’re putting the cart before the horse. Â This dialogue should be had at the negotiation table, not the Council table.
Karen Goldner: Amendments. Â Part of it deals with the caps on the active rates. Â Police and Fire exception made for retirees only. Â It is reasonable that employees share in the costs. Â City Council does have the ability to set parameters for future contracts. Â We need to have competitive compensation package, not necessarily the best in town. Â Putting their lives on the line merits increased compensation.
Tom Smith: Let’s imagine this bill passes… would we be open to law suits? Â How expensive would the litigation become? Â We do have to consider that aspect. Â Is this something that if we made the change, would the City be open to law suits.
Tim Didier: Concept of something they’re getting for free vs. something they’ve earned. Â It’s very easy to sell the concept that it’s something they’re getting for free or better than other cities. Â Â It makes good policy sense, should be something down the road, perhaps a decade. Â I’m not certain it’s good policy. Â This is avery attractive benefit. Â Are we getting more talented employees? Â Better motivated? Â I would want to asses this before taking it away. Â Not going to support the project here, but I think further inquiries are warranted.
Mitch Harper: Is this a matter of saving the $300,000 or long term savings?
Liz – this would try to tamp down some of those costs. Â This is a unique benefit. Â In the State of Indiana, this is the best and is unique. Â This doesn’t cover those who’ve earned it or are retired. Â 6 of the 9 of us here participate in this plan. Â Those who have less than 10 years can look at another proposal. Â The threat of a law suit can be onerous. Â It is not illegal to make these decisions.
Mitch Harper: what’s the average of non-public safety retirees and average age of other city retired employees.
Liz Brown: 40 non-public safety covered. Â 240 public safety covered. Â I don’t want anyone in this city to think that aging firefighter’s are not safe. Â They go through annual physical examinations.
Roll Call: No – Brown, Harper, Hines, Shoaff and Smith. Â Amendment fails.
Mitch Harper: Make City Council ineligible for retiree health insurance benefit.
Counselor: clarifying. Â My understand is that it would be germane to add in Harper’s amendment.
Mitch Harper: Philosophical discussions with his wife about part time City employees to have the benefit. Â This Council’s base salary is among highest in the State.
Tom Didier: I do not take health insurance. Â This is another full-time job for me, especially with all the emails about Calhoun Street.
Karen Goldner: About half the state offers health insurance to elected officials.
Glynn Hines: To Mitch Harper – you can elect out and not have skin in the game.
Liz Brown: Elected officials are treated differently. Â Have to be at 32 hours per week to be eligible for this benefit. Â You can say you can elect out, but you will budget $9,900 per council memeber. Â Does not matter. Â We will budget almost $99,000 for Council, even if we don’t take it.
Tim Pape: I don’t understand how it makes us a better City. Â Costs have been managed quite well. Â It is devoid of any consideration about what this benefit will Â mean as far as attracting good employees.
Roll Call on original ordinance: Â No – Bender, Didier, Goldner, Hines, Pape, Smith. Â City Council insurance remains.
Liz Brown: Cost benefits have gone up 45%. Â Is there an interest in holding this?
Karen Goldner: The Council does have the authority to establish parameters regarding negotiations. Â Changing horses in mid-stream leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Â The negotiations have been on-going for some time.
Back and forth discussion between Brown and Goldner about changing the rules.
Roll Call vote: No – Bender, Didier, Goldner, Harper, Hines, Pape, Shoaff and Smith. Â 8-1.
I’ll update on the Regular Session in another post, along with some video. Â Calhoun Street did pass.