The Carbondale Observer

News and commentary about Carbondale, Illinois and SIUC

City Council Meeting 02/07/2012

with 7 comments

I watched last night’s city council meeting from home on Mediacom’s channel 16. As expected, council approved TIF funds for Coleman Rentals, approved the labor agreements with the police unions, and approved the chicken ordinance. And, as expected, the discussion of community and economic development organization funding consumed most of the meeting.

Most of the time spent on community and economic development organization funding was devoted to the mayor’s proposal to cut $120,000 from the Carbondale Convention and Tourism Bureau’s budget and distribute that money to other organizations. CCTB executive director Debbie Moore delivered a 30 minute summary of the agency’s activities and former SIUC chancellor Sam Goldman delivered a speech opposing cuts to the CCTB.

After other organizations seeking funding gave their remarks, council returned to the CCTB issue. Council member Jane Adams asked a number of questions of CCTB executive director Debbie Moore. Adams’ questions were aimed at CCTB’s budget process, performance of its duties, and use of staff time. Mayor Fritzler cut Adams’ time short before she was able to finish asking her questions.

Council member Corene McDaniel delivered a fiery defense of CCTB and indictment of Fritzler’s plan. McDaniel pointed to the assortment of agencies Fritzler proposes funding with the money cut from CCTB and noted that Attucks Community Services, which provides services mostly to African-American children on the city’s northeast side, is not included.

Council member Lance Jack shared his concern that the city is moving too quickly to reallocate funds that have gone to CCTB in the past. Jack said he was open to reallocating the funds but wanted to be sure that whatever projects would receive the redistributed money are able to spend the money intelligently. A tense exchange with Fritzler followed.

Council member Don Monty echoed some of the concerns raised by Jack and McDaniel and added that he is concerned that city funding for some organizations might discourage people from volunteering with those organizations. Monty said that the funding levels proposed for some beneficiaries of the CCTB cut are too low to make much difference to those organizations – offering the Buckminster Fuller Dome and the Park District pool as examples.

Council member Lee Fronabarger pointed to a communications gap with CCTB and said he never knew how CCTB spent its money until he began studying the issue recently. He also said he’s heard complaints about CCTB’s performance of its duties – specifically that CCTB has been unresponsive to requests for help in organizing festivals.

Several community members spoke on the CCTB issue, some in favor of cutting funds from CCTB and some opposed. Council decided to continue the discussion of CCTB funding to the next meeting and to hold funding for all other organizations steady.

I’m going to withhold comment on the substance of this, but I will tell you that I’d vote to cut the funds from CCTB this year and every year until major changes were made to CCTB. To see what Fritzler proposes funding with $120,000 cut from CCTB, click here.

Comments are welcome.

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7 Responses

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  1. Thanks for the informative summary.

    Sharon Wittke

    February 8, 2012 at 8:26 am

  2. “I will tell you that I’d vote to cut the funds from CCTB this year and every year until major changes were made to CCTB.”

    I would certainly support that. Thanks for the summary, too.

    John Holt

    February 8, 2012 at 9:25 am

  3. Fritzler’s disdain for Adams is always on display; its too bad he allows his personal feelings to interfere with duties that are within the best interests of the city.

    That said, the concern I would raise with the distribution of the funds are that they are specific enough.

    Meaning that giving $10,000 to the Bucky Dome is great, but given the track record of what has been completed in the past (not for lack of enthusiasm, but totally unable to organize or manage).

    It should be very specific: “$10,000 per year will be granted to the rebuilding of the Buckminster Fuller property in increments of $2,500 per quarter contingent upon the development of a reasonable reconstruction management plan, budget assessment, and milestone outlining the successful completion milestones.”

    And then within that language, say that the fence must be the first thing to be repaired, and if progress is not kept pace on a quarter period, measured by the length of new fence placed into the ground and finished, then funds will be cut off after two quarters (since ideally one quarter will be paid upfront to allow for capital investments). That gives the folks six months to show they are serious, otherwise pull the funds.

    The street sweeping I’m a bit leery about… this also needs to be specific. Where is this thing to be sweeping all of the time? Are there some areas of the city that need it more than others? Will there be an expectation that it operates a certain number of hours per year, will inclement weather offset the hours to another time period? Most importantly: will some neighborhoods get more attention than other?

    The usage of city assets that are mobile are something should be tracked. Chicago snowplows were infamous for only taking care of certain politician neighborhoods. Finally GPS trackers were placed on them and people could see who was getting more attention than others.

    Anyhow, I’m not even sure that Carbondale has need of a full time street sweeper – what’s his rationalization? Is this the salary for a driver, or is it for a machine? If its for a machine, then does that mean an employee will need to be hired by city services, or will they come from an existing pool of employees? If they are coming from an existing pool, does that mean other services will decline? If they are available to come from other services, does that mean that we have people on payroll that are idle and in need of work? If this is going to be contracted out, who will be rewarded with the contract?

    I could go on and on… these items for money, I don’t understand their justification or how they were obtained.

    If the mayor is proposing changes to the budget, can he provide to the public how he reached his numbers and decisions for these proposals?

    As for the CCTB – everything I’ve read about it is that it is a meaningless service that exists to provide Moore with a job that she has apparently developed an entitlement complex for. The statements I’ve encountered from others is that she is hostile and indifferent. The advertisements I’ve seen are nothing short of terrible, so I’ve got my personal opinions on the quality gained and return on investment.

    Adams was probably interested in getting the full picture of the operation, but since Fritzler cut her off, he must of already reached his decision without further need for investigation. Whew. This is like Brad Cole Lite.

    AceAce

    February 8, 2012 at 10:01 am

    • Ace – I basically agree with all of this. I’ll just add a couple things.

      On Fritzler – his habit of letting his personal feelings get in the way of business goes way back. You can see it in his treatment of Lance Jack and in the way he dealt with former mayor Brad Cole. What’s odd with his attitude toward Adams is that they usually vote together. It seems like he’d want to get along with someone who usually votes with him. But who knows what goes on in that head of his? I’m just hoping we’re on our last three years of Joel Fritzler and we’ll get someone who is up to the job after the next election.

      On the street sweeper – I’m not 100% certain on this, but I think the $35k is for salary for a new employee. If I’m not mistaken, we kept the street sweeping machine after we laid off the operator as part of budget cuts a few years ago. I think that was one of the planks in Fritzler’s platform – we’re making payments on a street sweeper, let’s hire someone to operate it. That makes sense, but I would support the use of GPS or some other system to monitor the sweeper.

      I also agree on the money for the Bucky Dome. I’m all for fixing it up and I wouldn’t oppose some city money going to support that. But I want to know that progress is being made and I think it’s a good idea to make city funding contingent on measurable progress.

      Thanks for the comment!

      The Carbondale Observer

      February 8, 2012 at 9:25 pm

  4. […] A few weeks ago, I wrote summaries of the two city council meetings concerning CCTB funding (one, two), and I briefly mentioned that I supported Mayor Fritzler’s plan to cut the […]


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