City Council notes – 8/18/2009

The Fort Wayne City Council

Notes from the August 18, 2009 City Council  meeting.  Periodically refresh this page for the latest updates.

All present except for Councilman Tom Didier.

S-09-08-02: passed.

S-09-08-03:  passed.

R-09-06-13:  Two appraisals have been provided to me which will be available for download later this evening.  Both appraisals are within $350,000 of each other in three separate valuations:

  1. Appraisal of the entire building, less the square footage of the Lincoln Museum leased space, plus the History Center parking lot ($6,610,000 – 6,327,000)
  2. Appraisal of the entire building, including the value of leasehold interest in Lincoln Museum lease plus History Center parking lot ($9,600,000 – 9,727,000)
  3. Appraisal of the entire building as though the real estate was free and clear of any encumberances or leases plus the History Center parking lot ($7,310,000 – 7,227,000)

First appraisal amount is from Misner & Associates, while the second is from Griffin Real Estate Services.

You may download the presentation here and the analysis spreadsheets here.


Councilman Harper has asked Controller Roller to explain the financing aspects of the project.

Councilman Hines: asking about Counties needs.  Approximately 100,000 square feet for each City and County in City County Building.  Working group is working towards getting solid figures.  100,000 square feet of space to be filled in new building.

Councilwoman Goldner: asking Councilman Bender to elaborate on the needs of the Police and explain the increase of space for the FWPD.

FWPD Chief Rusty York: “We’re out of space.  Certain renovations need in the building, but can’t.”  Will still keep our outposts in the districts, but even for administrative staff, not enough space.  Electrical and mechanical problems throughout the building.  Serious safety problems.  If there is a fire – with six floors and one staircase – it’s a serious problem.  We’ll be able to consolidate those functions outside the building.

Goldner: asked about specific needs. York:  we rent space for vice and narcotics, crime scene unit, maintenance for vehicles, even though neighborhood code isn’t under police umbrella, still could co-locate it.  Records function could be combined with County.

Roller: why August 31st is important.  There is a lease for the Lincoln Museum until 2024.  Negotiations difficult between Lincoln National and owner (George Hubert) so that the city may buy the building unemcumbered, but has to be purchased by August 31st. The buyout would be actually at a savings to the City.  August 31st is a hard date.  Originally submitted the 23rd of June.

Shoaff: Contract reads that August 31st date is not solid.

Richard Fox, Barrett & McNagny – the owner wants a firm committment so he can pull the trigger on the buyout with Lincoln National.  Council has to approve the agreement so the City can sign off on the agreement.

Shoaff: City buys building, we lose potential for commercial activity/development, off the tax roles.  If we don’t, building may be sold or undesirable possibility (deterioration?).

Roller: We have been talking about this building since 2004.  We were part of discussions with County in 2004 and 2005.  I thought we were going to be close in 2008.  “This is the building that will allow for future solutions to our community.  To maximize services, to consolidate, to service citizens…there is a momentum and public interest  in all this – now is the time to move forward.”

Shoaff: “I also think there’s a great deal of public skepticism.  We shouldn’t press to quickly on this.  Need to build public confidence in this decision.”

Roller: “No one was happy we had to renew the police lease at Creighton.  I wish we would have had more time, but that was taken out of our control and has beeen in the public domain for some time.”

Councilman Smith: “Give us another two or three weeks. Let us have time to have a public hearing.  I won’t vote for this unless I have some input from the citizens.”   Proposing hold until September 13, 2009.  Roller: We have asked for time….”  Smith: “Then redouble your efforts.”  “I know the police need a new place to go.  This seems to be the only place.  Police need 80k square feet, which leaves 140k square feet – it’s the tail wagging the dog.”  I know people want to address us.  $14 million dollars, we need to hear from people.  I can’t imagine why it can’t be done.”  “I’m asking for this on behalf of the citizens of Fort Wayne.”    Roller: miss it, purchase price could go up.  Smith: do you know of another buyer?  Roller: I do not.  Smith appealed directly to Lincoln and the owner.

Councilman Tim Pape: what affect would missing deadline have?  Fox: Solid date, not willing to go forward with buyout past August 31.  Will pay additional $2.1 million.  “I don’t know when the public has only been limited to coming before the Council.”  Mayor publicized deal in June.  There has been avenues for people to come to the open mic time.  Opportunity through e-mails.  They have phones, letters to the editors.  “Sometimes the public is giving your their opinion through their remarkable silence.”  The implication that the Henry Administration is standing in the way of a public hearing is factually wrong.  The City Council can set a public hearing.  Could be held next week.  I personally don’t think this deserves a public hearing as it’s been out before the public long enough.

Councilwoman Liz Brown: Will parking needs for police be met with Diocese Parking garage?  Answer yes.  Tax dollars lost will not be a significant hit for any one entity.  Roller: Redevelopment Commission says there are sufficient funds in Civic Center TIFF that loss of property revenue will not affect it.  No broker fees.  What we need to understand is that we pay $2.1 million per year to be in CCB, we can say it’s tail-wagging dog, doesn’t matter.  We’re not moving 911, Planning would stay with County… Roller: working group is having discussions about what could and should be moved into Renaissance Square.

Brown: We’re watching all the letters back and forth.  We need to know that nothing is off the table.  Whether we co-own the buildings, long term leases…I think the purchase price itself is a good deal, but the City has paid $1.2 million to the County monthly.  We paid part of the bond.  Whether it’s accurate of the maintenance costs…we need to know the County will be good stewards of this space and that they will fill the space.  Not off property taxes, but is off CEDIT dollars going foward.  I need to know City will work with County to fill the space.  Roller: The Working Group is committed to making recommendation that will efficiently work.  County cares for citizens of this community as much as City.  I can’t speak for County.  Working Group is working hard at looking at the functionality and finances.  One of the issues – Working Group can work very expediently so that by the time the recommendation is made, decisions made by elected officials can be made accurately.

Harper: questioning ingress and egress of police vehicles from the parking facility.  (Liz Brown: I’ve done it.)  “Very few of the matters that come before the Council originate from the Council.  Most of our agenda originates with the Administration.”  Two month period  between introduction and when it is finally before the Council for discussion.  Supports public hearing.

Goldner: I have heard via e-mail from a number of constituents since June.  I’m going to ask for a public hearing to be scheduled.  Made a motion.

Smith: could take next Tuesday’s meeting and do a public hearing.  Have the discussion then final vote in Regular Session.

Hines:  makes sense, we have the information and data, can hear from the public next week.

Shoaff: I hear from a lot of thoughtful people, that they need more information.  We have to be as comfortable with County’s side because it’s not in their hands.

Roller: We were hoping to have an MOU, the County in their response, I thought hedged to their committment to the debt service.  I’m not sure where the County is on the finances.  Where does it make the most sense for where people should go which goes to the space required and will dictate how much money the County will need to pay.

Smith: we can do all of our key voting after we’ve heard from the public.

Nay votes for public hearing – Councilmen Tim Pape and Marty Bender.

Pape: I think the Mayor has done a tremendous benefit to the community by forcing the County to consider the plan.  It is very exciting to bring FWPD into downtown.  Would save County spending money to build Sherrif’s headquarters outside of downtown.  Fits within our plan for downtown.   “I think this is a very good deal.”  Councilwoman Brown, it’s understandable to think about the 1.2 million we pay to City, we have no authority or ability to make a decision for County government.  Problem is one government trying to be led by three heads.  I still haven’t heard for additional requests for information from the Administration.  We need to be deliberative, but we also need to be quick.  Right result is to have the public hearing.

Shoaff: It’s half the story, we need to have County’s side.  Loss of building property taxes and parking revenues?  “Never let anyone pressure you into making a purchase.  We need time to come up with a good decision.”

Pape: Perhaps a letter to the County Commissioners  is in order to obtain the information.

Goldner: Only reason it’s now and not then, was to be able to have negotiations with County.  Administration moving forward is what’s pushed this forward.

Opposed to holding – Councilmen Bender and Pape.

Brown: I don’t feel the rush.  Lincoln Life has made the offer to pay off 15 year lease and owner made the offer as well.  As far as the County goes, I appreciate their leadership.  They will be happy to have something in stone to move forward.  County gave their proposal.  I think they came up with same numbers.  I don’t think it’s our place to comment on whether Sherrif needs new building.  But, I appreciate the Commissioner’s holding off making a decision.  I think both County and City, regardless of how they’ve been in the past, looking at both buildings with needs they have.

Smith: Working group – public meetings?  Would you conisder it?  Haven’t had time to consider that.  I think it a good thing to consider.

G-09-06-09: Liz Brown – It was quite enlightening to understand the amount of buildings Aunt Millie’s has taken over and kept up.  Smith pointed out that Aunt Millie’s CFO was on WOWO and commended City Council for doing their due dilligence on the request.  Withdrawl accepted.

S-09-08-01:  three year contract, wage increase applies only to first year, to be considered rest mindful of the economic conditions.

Brown: hold to be resolved concurrently with budget hearings.  Seconded by Mitch Harper.

Goldner:  Something I’ve struggled with.  Point of collective bargaining is that the agreement forms the budget.  If we’re going to say there’s no money, then there’s no point in collective  bargaining.  I think it appropriate to approve it before the budget hearing.

Harper: It’s prudent to discuss all money matters at once.

Pape: We appropriate monies in budget for executives to spend.  We don’t need to worry about budget time, it will fall on the departments to come up with ways to fund it.

Brown: I don’t think we’re interferring with collective bargaining.  I would find it irresponsible to suggest we will give them a salary increase, then don’t have the money to do it.  I can’t imagine doing this right now.  Sends the wrong message to do it now.

Hines: “I would totally disagree.”  Controller Roller’s confidence was part of Chief Kelly’s going into negotiations.  I’m against holding this.  Firefighters are citizens and taxpayers.  Coming in with a 1.5% after a year of no increase is prudent.

Ridley: Collective Bargaining ordinance is in place that allows us to negotiate.  If we get on this slippery slope of holding this, if we put everything on hold until budget is set, why do we have collective bargaining ordinance?  Reduction of manpower $500,000 previously.  We have paid for our raise already.

Chief Kelly: Got it done early and expediently.  To Goldner: we go in with parameters.  We’re minimizing overtime and improving efficiencies.  Through a lot of team work and efficiences, reduce overtime next year, new apparatus policy.  Coming in at ’08 levels.

Smith: You’re coming in at ’08 levels?  Yes.  I don’t know if this rises to the same level as the health care issue last week.  To Pat Roller: if we’re talking about 1.5% raise, is that the same we’re talking about that for everyone across the board?  Pat: Yes.  Smith: Can the City get to the same ’08 levels in the budget?  Pat: I’m feeling very good about the budgets for 2010.  I believe we will be able to bring in a budget that everyone around this table will be proud of.  I believe we will be able to accomodate the 1.5% increase and be balanced.

Brown: We took the wage increases last year which is why you look so good.  We don’t have layoffs or furloughs. We need to see the big picture.  Need to hold it so that we don’t limit ourselves in other areas.  If we can wait a few weeks, until all the departments do their budgets, then it shouldn’t make a difference.  This contract doesn’t go into effect until January, 2010.

Smith: to Pat Roller: how many other contracts will be ready to come before budgets?  Can’t really say.

Harper: Unless something extraordinary ocurrs, my only principal is if you have a unified budget process, it is simply prudent to have all budgetary concerns handled at once.  It’s good practice.

In favor to hold: Liz Brown and Mitch Harper

“Do Pass” out of Committee vote: Councilwoman Liz Brown opposed.

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