Live: City Council notes – 8/11/2009

The Fort Wayne City Council

Notes from tonight’s City Council meeting.

Committee Session

No one spoke at the public hearing for A-09-07-22.

North Anthony project: Hipskind was the lowest, $510,560.75 bid.  Pam Holocher is talking about the project.  “This is a community development project in that it reallly sustains neighborhoods, a project we really like to be involved with.”  Taking out a lane, adding green space and bicycle lanes.  Vision for the project came from property owners five years ago.

It  has taken so long because of the community input with this project.  Number of drive cuts  was over 20 to start with, now reduced to 11.  There will be two bus huts installed and colored crosswalks.  On the north end will be some new modern traffic signals.  The neighborhood group has collected funds to allow for other ornamentation to be installed.  They want for the project to be done in this construction season.  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.  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.  It is an improvement in many ways.

John Shoaff: Bouleavard was one of the original avenues identified by George Kessler.  Is there a reason why we don’t see more trees?  Pam – Signage of businesses.  Every cut was a joint decision between owners and the City.  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?  Yes.  They will be signing off on easements to preserve this.  Had to choose one side or the other.  One – more curb cuts on west side and it was also a direct connnection to the Rivergreenway.  No federal dollars in the project.  Permission has been granted by owners for the bus hut locations.  Citilink is  paying for the construction of the huts.

Passed out of committee with “Do Pass”, 9-0.


$1.2 million last year;  $416k until June, in legal costs to defend city against claims against the police.  Seems to run in ten year cycles.  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.   Law requires us to provide it, does not say we have to pay for it.  Going forward, employees would share more in the premiums.

Tom Didier: What concessions were made by the employees when the current agreement was made?  It needs to go to the bargaining table before we can make a decision.  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.  City is loosing more money across the board on health insurance.  This isn’t about the union – it’s about them paying a portion of their insurance.  “It’s the tail wagging the dog,” in reference to the unions.  Drew a rumble from the crowd.  There was a lot of lobbying to not introduce the bill, none about having a conversation.  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.  All concessions and health plan was negotiated in good faith.  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.  It was a long drawn-out negotiation.  In this case, you’re putting the cart before the horse.  This dialogue should be had at the negotiation table, not the Council table.

Karen Goldner: Amendments.  Part of it deals with the caps on the active rates.  Police and Fire exception made for retirees only.  It is reasonable that employees share in the costs.  City Council does have the ability to set parameters for future contracts.  We need to have competitive compensation package, not necessarily the best in town.  Putting their lives on the line merits increased compensation.

Tom Smith: Let’s imagine this bill passes… would we be open to law suits?  How expensive would the litigation become?  We do have to consider that aspect.  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.  It’s very easy to sell the concept that it’s something they’re getting for free or better than other cities.    It makes good policy sense, should be something down the road, perhaps a decade.  I’m not certain it’s good policy.  This is avery attractive benefit.  Are we getting more talented employees?  Better motivated?  I would want to asses this before taking it away.  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.  This is a unique benefit.  In the State of Indiana, this is the best and is unique.  This doesn’t cover those who’ve earned it or are retired.  6 of the 9 of us here participate in this plan.  Those who have less than 10 years can look at another proposal.  The threat of a law suit can be onerous.  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.  240 public safety covered.  I don’t want anyone in this city to think that aging firefighter’s are not safe.  They go through annual physical examinations.

Roll Call: No – Brown, Harper, Hines, Shoaff and Smith.  Amendment fails.

Mitch Harper: Make City Council ineligible for retiree health insurance benefit.

Counselor: clarifying.  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.  This Council’s base salary is among highest in the State.

Tom Didier: I do not take health insurance.  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.  Have to be at 32 hours per week to be eligible for this benefit.  You can say you can elect out, but you will budget $9,900 per council memeber.  Does not matter.  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.  Costs have been managed quite well.  It is devoid of any consideration about what this benefit will  mean as far as attracting good employees.

Roll Call on original ordinance:  No – Bender, Didier, Goldner, Hines, Pape, Smith.  City Council insurance remains.

Liz Brown: Cost benefits have gone up 45%.  Is there an interest in holding this?

Karen Goldner: The Council does have the authority to establish parameters regarding negotiations.  Changing horses in mid-stream leaves a bad taste in my mouth.  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.  8-1.

Regular Session

I’ll update on the Regular Session in another post, along with some video.  Calhoun Street did pass.

Related Images:



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here