The City Council agenda states the meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 21 but the meeting actually starts with a closed session at 5 p.m. Judging from past closed sessions before City Council meetings the smart bet is that the business part of the meeting will start after 5:30 p.m. rather than before.
The closed session reportedly has to do with the City Council hiring a new city attorney. Former City Attorney Tom Carruthers resigned on Oct. 2, 2018 and Jim Hoffman has been interim city attorney since Oct 22, 2018.
Carruthers was the third highest paid city employee when he resigned with a salary of $180,000 a year. Only City Manager David Parrish and Coliseum Director Matt Brown had higher salaries.
The City Council interviewed five applicants for city attorney and is reportedly in the salary negotiation stage with one applicant, which means it could be a short closed session if a majority of the Council has already reached an agreement, if they haven’t then there is no telling.
Once the meeting gets started there is a 70 item agenda that the City Council will have to plow through. What would have been the most controversial rezoning of the evening, a case that centers around 0.1 acres on Battleground Road at Markland Drive is being continued.
But it is still likely that the rezoning cases will overshadow what should be the big item on the agenda, the presentation of the manager’s recommended 2019-2020 budget by Parrish. Other elected bodies take the manager’s recommended budget as a starting point and make significant changes. But the City Council hasn’t spent much time on the budget in years. Traditionally what the Council does is argue for a while about how much to hand out to the favored few nonprofit organizations that receive city funding. Usually at least one or two city councilmembers want to give more to nonprofit organizations than the city manager, so in the end a few hundred thousand is added to the budget of over $500 million and then it is passed largely untouched.
This year could be different because the City Council has indicated a desire to spend more money than it has, which has not been a problem in the past because the city had ample reserves, called fund balances in municipal budget jargon. But Budget and Evaluation Director Larry Davis warned the City Council earlier this year that it could not depend on taking money from the fund balances this year as it has in the past.
Items like the Good Repair Ordinance which will cost an estimated $350,000 to implement could become issues.
There are two annexation and original zoning requests on McConnell Road on either side of Innsbrook Village Apartments at 3668 McConnell Road owned by the Carroll Companies, that also owns this publication, that had opposition at the Zoning Commission Meeting.
At the Zoning meeting Mike Fox, an attorney with Tuggle Duggins, representing Carroll, asked that the items be continued, but that request was denied. Fox then spoke against both requests as they were presented. He said both properties needed more conditions to make them compatible with the multifamily zoning next door.
The request for 3618 McConnell Road is from Linder Equipment that leases and sells heavy construction equipment. The request for 3712 to 3742 McConnell Road is from Penske Truck Leasing Company which would place a truck leasing and repair facility on the property.
The Zoning Commission voted in favor of both rezoning requests.