Finance Committee report
The Finance Committee met last night for an hour and a half. The following items were acted upon:
- The proposed resolution by the Parks Commission to create the AFSCME permanent part-time position of golf course clubhouse manager and to establish its 2012 wage rate was approved. Alderperson Tod Ohnstad had asked for a deferral at the last meeting because he wanted to know what the clubhouse manager would be doing in the winter. Jeff Warnock, parks superintendent, stated that the manager would be involved in helping to organize the winter activities: the ice rink, cross-country skiing, and sledding that will take place at the golf course. Also, the person may be able to help in parks administration. Chairman David Bogdala asked about snowplowing, and Warnock said that that, too, might be a possibility.
- The lease between the city of Kenosha and New Cingular Wireless PCS, LLC, for property located at 1613 Washington Road, was unanimously approved. (Click here to read the more detailed article on this item: AT&T Cell Phone Tower Lease Approved.)
- The joint parkland and communications facility development agreement for the same property was also unanimously approved.
- The fireworks display agreement by and between the city and MIAND, Inc., dba Mad Bomber Fireworks Productions, in the amount of $41,300, was approved. Alderperson Theodore Ruffalo asked Frank Pacetti, the city administrator, about Walgreen’s contribution. Pacetti stated that Walgreen’s has committed to donating $10,000 for the festivities, but not for this item specifically.
- The request from Attorney Charlie Cousland, Dairyland Greyhound Park, Inc., to rescind building/zoning re-inspection fees in the amount of $2,502 for illegal signs at 5522 – 104th Avenue, was deferred for thirty days. Paula Blise, zoning coordinator, made a visit to the park. She said that she had a hard time even figuring out where to go to enter the park. A worker she spoke to said that “they’re driving me nuts with calls from people asking whether or not there was dog racing at the park.” Cousland said that the park is now being used for their corporate offices. “There are ongoing activities at the park,” he said. “There are maintenance people at the park. Also, security people. We are making sure it’s a secure facility. It’s a large facility. It’s a difficult job.” He argued that the signs are not obsolete, not abandoned. “These signs are important to our overall strategy. We want to make sure that it looks like there is an owner here who cares about the property. Taking down the signs makes it look abandoned. We removed graffiti from a sign recently. This is being done in our own self-interest, not just because of a threat from the municipality.” Blise felt that the signs should denote the corporate offices, and not the dog kennels and valet parking, which are services that are no longer being provided at the park. (The park closed on December 31, 2010.) Cousland proposed a “standstill” until March 1, 2013, but the committee was not in favor of that. Bogdala didn’t feel that that was in the city’s best interests. Bogdala referenced Heritage House, which has fallen into disrepair, the unused liquor license which was issued to the casino, and the continued wait for the casino. “If we don’t enforce the laws on the books, we’re left with a vacant gas station on Sheridan Road,” he said. Bogdala stated that he appreciated Blise going out there for a visit. Alderperson Theodore Ruffalo looked through the pictures of the signs that were provided in their packets. He proposed a thirty-day deferral to allow time for Cousland and Blise to sit down and come to an agreement on which signs can be removed (and remove them by the next meeting), and which need to be changed to properly reflect the current activities which are being conducted at the park. Bogdala stated that this committee would be the final arbiter on any disagreements. He also was not in favor of rescinding the $2,502 in re-inspection fees. “This took city staff time,” he said. Ruffalo pleaded for the process to “just use common sense.” Bogdala said that he had no problem if the two felt that he (or Alderperson Jesse Downing) should be a part of the upcoming planned discussion.
- The request from Yolanda Adams, president/CEO of the Urban League – Racine/Kenosha, to rescind a building/zoning re-inspection fee in the amount of $72 for illegal occupancy at 1418 – 68th Street, was approved. Adams was present and spoke. “I know that this is not a significant amount of money. But, the facts are that we had the minor ordinance violations taken care of, were told that we had passed, the work was completed, and the contractors were paid. Then, we get a notice a year later that we owe re-inspection fees? This disturbs us greatly.” This goes back to February 17, 2011. Blise contacted Adams, and when Adams told her that she had passed, Blise told her that, unfortunately, that had not been entered into the computer system. Blise then did her due diligence in that she reviewed the system for any other outstanding fees for other property owners that were not completely entered on-line, and she found fifteen others. Bogdala questioned Jeff LaBahn, interim director of the Department of Community Development & Inspections, as to the reason these were not entered. LaBahn said that it was the fault of the owner/contractor, who didn’t follow up with the city to request a final inspection. Blise stated that there is currently no follow-up being done by the city. Bogdala stated that, “Yes, there is some onus on the property owner. But, it’s also on us to make sure that we let them know.” He was bothered by the fact that they never received a written letter. LaBahn said that he would check into the situation and report back. Alderperson Tod Ohnstad commented that “this was distressing enough. If only verbal information is given, it’s a big mess, and I’m glad that we’re addressing it now.” He moved to rescind the fee, and the rest of the committee agreed. Bogdala stated that all of this has to be in writing from now on. “If someone leaves, and we have nothing in writing, we don’t know where we stand. Having the proper documentation should make it a lot easier.”
- A representative from the Kenosha Area Business Alliance (KABA) presented the 4th quarter loan reports. He also reported on The Lakota Group’s progress on the downtown study. They have finished the first phase, which was preparation of an action plan. Their report should be completed in mid-April. Next will come the community visioning phase. The final plan should be completed by the end of June, early July. He was happy to report that there were no past due loans. Ohnstad asked about KABA’s offer of $400,000 to raze the Heritage House, but the representative knew nothing about that. The report was received and filed.
- Disbursement Record #3 in the amount of $6,822,558.65 was approved.
- Next was a discussion of borrowing for the issuance and sale of general obligation bonds for refunding tax increment project revenue bonds for TID # 11 – First Industrial Investment, Inc. Carol Stancato, finance director, stated that this was similar to the recent approval for TID # 13 – Gordon Food Service. (Click here to read more information about the prior sale: Finance Committee Meeting Report.) It will save $9.4 million for the taxpayers. Bogdala saw it as a ‘win-win.’ The committee gave their recommendation to move forward. The report was received and filed.
- The last item on the agenda was the proposed resolution by Alderperson Theodore Ruffalo and co-sponsord by Alderperson Tod Ohnstad to place a request for a proposal for engineering services to discover a long-term solution to eliminate the silt deposition in the Kenosha Harbor mouth. (Click here to read the more detailed article on this item: Finance Committee Approves Resolution for Dredging.)