MADISON CITY COUNCIL – Council split on decision to amended 2023 budget
Amended budget includes $1 million for signage throughout the city
MADISON – After the May 17 work session that reviewed the mid-year budget status, the council considered a resolution at the June 12 council meeting amending the annual operating budget for FY 23.
The budget includes $1 million designated for the Wayfinding Project which will erect new, consistent directional signage around the city. Councilwoman Maura Wroblewski voiced opposition to the funding, saying that she would rather spend the money on much-needed road and sidewalk projects.
“I’m not saying the signs aren’t in the future worthy, but right now, we just have so many priorities that we really need to tackle with infrastructure,” she said. She added, too, “It’s more of a want than a need.”
Mayor Paul Finley, in response, argued for the usefulness of the wayfinding project.
“As we grow, there’s a lot of folks that don’t get over to County Line Road. It helps them get where they need to be,” he commented.
Seifert chimed in that the money allotted for wayfinding in this budget is only an estimate and if real quotes come back more expensive, the council can vote down the project.
Funding for the Hexagon pickleball courts which is also included in the budget came into question by Councilwoman Karen Denzine. The budget allots $1 million for the outfitting of the Hexagon facility with pickleball courts.
On that $1 million, Denzine queried, “Is that in addition to the money that we spent previously this year, the $385,000 that went to the pickleball courts, or is that include that?”
Mayor Finley answered, “It’s included in that. So, that’s part of that total number.”
He also explained that the total will cover additional improvements besides the pickleball courts.
The movement of $3 million from one fund to another sparked heated discussion with Denzine wary of that money being spent without approval. The other council members and the mayor explained that the money is simply being moved from one account to another and is not yet being spent and can not be spent without going through the council and receiving its approval.
The discussion resulted in the passage of the amended budget by a 4-1 majority with Denzine objecting.
The amending of City Code Section 2-42(4) Order of Agenda Items was addressed as well. This item reorganizes the order of council meetings to move Public Comments to the end of the meeting. A vote on the item was postponed after concerned citizens and council members took issue with the wording of the amended order of agenda items that apparently eliminated the Public Hearing and Board and Committee Appointment sections.
City Attorney Brian Kilgore explained that this section will not be eliminated but is simply moved to a different part not stated in the agenda. He asserted, “All we are doing is reshuffling what is already existing. This is the existing code that we’re proposing to amend, and if you look through this, you’ll see that it doesn’t actually list Public Hearings and it doesn’t actually list these other sections. So, they’re not eliminated. They’re just being reshuffled as you already have them in the code listed now.”
The council still elected, however, to postpone a vote on the item until the June 26 council meeting.
Concerns raised about the location of the new Rocket City Armory near Midtown Elementary, Primrose Preschool, and the future Big Blue Marble preschool were addressed by Mayor Finley with the news that a full-time SRO will be added to Midtown Elementary upon the commencement of the new school year.
Concerned citizen Jennifer Coe queried in Public Comments, “Why didn’t the gun store come before the planning commission?”
Seifert clarified that the armory did not meet the ten-thousand-square-foot minimum requirement to go before the planning commission.
Councilwoman Spears announced that the neighborhood repaving project is ongoing. She assured that the project, which is a collaboration between the city and Madison Utilities, is diligent in breaking up the existing pavement before repaving while fixing a previous paving technique that left collapsing trenches in the structure of many roads around the city.
Additional items approved by the council include the following:
- One-year maintenance renewal for network performance monitoring services form Solarwinds for $1,717
- Transportation agreement with Madison Street Festival, Inc. for the 2023 Madison Street Festival
- Amendment to a Professional Services Agreement with OHM Advisors regarding the Maecille Drive and Segers Road Intersection Improvements currently identified in the FY 2023 budget approval in the amount of $10,000
- Acceptance of donations from M.C. Flurer for $25, Valley Internal Medicine and Pediatrics for $100, and J.B. Hammer for $20
- Acceptance and improvements of a right-of-way from UAH Foundation to extend Jetplex Lane
- Condemnation proceedings for acquisition of right-of-way and temporary construction easement for construction of Madison Branch Boulevard Roundabout
- Permissive Use Agreement with Madison Utilities to place pedestrian trail upon Oakland Springs Greenway easement
- Changes to Job Classification Plan that will add an Enterprise Resource Planning Support Specialist, an Administrative Manager for Public Works, and an Economic and External Affairs Officer to the city