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CRISIS MEETING OF THE NOVI CITY COUNCIL
Mayor Csordas called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m.
PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
ROLL CALL Mayor Csordas, Mayor Pro Tem Landry, Council Members Capello, Gatt, Lorenzo, Nagy, Paul
ALSO PRESENT Rick Helwig – City Manager
Craig Klaver – Chief Operating Officer
Gerald Fisher – City Attorney
Kathy Smith-Roy – Finance Director
Doug Shaeffer – Police Chief
Jack Lewis – Parks, Recreation, and Forestry Deputy Director
APPROVAL OF AGENDA
CM-04-05-206 Moved by Landry, seconded by Paul; CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: To approve the budget as presented.
Voice Vote on CM-04-05-206 CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY
Bruce Haffey, President of the Novi Youth Baseball League, said it was his understanding that there might be some available funds for allocation to the City’s parks. He is proud to be a resident of Novi, and is very proud to live in a premier community. The City’s parks and ball fields do not measure up and are not on par with those of surrounding communities. In some respects, the fields are dangerous. The outfields are clumpy, there are bare spots on the ground, balls often take bad hops, and kids can step in holes when running around on the field. Allocation of some funds to irrigate several ball fields would make for a dramatic improvement in those fields. He understood that there might be up to $80,000 or more to be allocated, and this could be sufficient to irrigate up to four ball fields. Field number two is being worked on right now, will be a beautiful ball field, and could be the diamond of that whole park. If they could get a few other improved ball fields, the City could begin holding tournaments at the park, and this could create an opportunity to reap some income from those fields. His league represents over 650 kids playing baseball in Novi, and has many bodies that would be eager to go out and volunteer to work on the fields. However, there is not much that can be done without irrigation. Once the fields are irrigated, top dressing can be done, as well as dragging and seeding. There are a number of travel teams that play in Kensington Valley, and there are number of teams that come to the Novi fields who comment that the City’s fields don’t compare to other fields around the area. He appealed to Council to spend money on the fields and some of the amenities that would make Novi a nicer community, one that is more enjoyable to live and play in.
PURPOSE OF SPECIAL MEETING
1. Discussion and adoption of 2004-2005 Budget Resolution
Mayor Pro Tem Landry remarked that the City had found itself in "a pretty sad situation." For the first time in anyone’s memory, City Council was not able to agree and pass a budget. Four members of Council were willing to pass the budget, three were not. The Charter requires a five-person majority; therefore, even though a simple majority was in agreement, a minority of the Council had been able to hold up the budget. A lot has been said. Much had been said in the newspapers about why the budget had not been passed. One Councilperson in particular, in a May 19, 2004 Detroit News article, said, "The main obstacle to the approval of the budget is the gentlemen." There had been discussion that a majority of the City Council was not willing to compromise.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry said let’s examine the facts and see who has compromised and who has not compromised. He said City administration prepared a budget and submitted it to Council. The first meeting was April 3rd, basically an informational meeting where no motions were made. The next meeting was April 24th, which began with much discussion about police officers. The budget document that came from administration suggested that Council add two police sergeants. Members of City Council, who at this point are in minority, wanted to add a patrolman as opposed to sergeants. There was much discussion that adding sergeants would mean that an extra sergeant will be on the road. He had made a motion to add two sergeants. There was a motion following his, made by Member Lorenzo and seconded by Member Paul, to amend his motion to add one police officer in addition to the two sergeants. Council had compromised, and the amendment passed, 6-0. The second motion was made by Member Nagy and seconded by Member Lorenzo, to decrease the Planning Commission budget. $12,198 was slashed from the Planning Commission budget. Conferences and workshops were reduced, emerging issues at that point was reduced from $11,765 to $5,000, and the motion was to eliminate funding for magazine subscriptions and APA dues. That motion, the second compromise, passed 6-0. The third motion was made by Member Lorenzo and seconded by Member Paul, to cut the Historical Commission budget from $15,500 down to $4,000. That motion also passed 6-0, and was the third compromise. The fourth motion was made by Member Lorenzo and seconded by Member Paul, to eliminate from the Planning Department budget $10,000 for temporary salaries. That motion also passed, the fourth compromise. The fifth motion was made by Member Lorenzo and seconded by Member Nagy, to reduce from $20,000 down to $13,000 City-wide training. That motion passed 4-3. The Mayor and Member Gatt did not support that motion; however, the Mayor and Member Gatt were willing to now support the budget which included that motion. The sixth motion was made by Member Paul and seconded by Member Capello, to eliminate the Planning Commission’s emerging issues budget of $5,000. That motion passed 6-1, with him as the dissenting vote, but he was now willing to pass the budget with that amendment included in it.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry recalled that the only other change to the budget as submitted to Council from administration was a change originally suggested by Member Gatt, with the motion made by Member Capello or himself. That motion was to reduce the number of dispatchers from 16 to 15, and to add an additional sergeant. Also, Member Paul advocated adding additional sums to the Parks, Recreation, and Forestry budget. Council compromised and agreed to put that in the motion. The motion passed 4-3. The minority did not agree to that amendment and did not compromise. Of the seven changes to the budget document that was now before Council, six of them were compromised by those now in the majority; the seventh included a compromise on Parks, Recreation, and Forestry. This did not represent compromise by those who were not willing to pass the budget at this time. The statements, that those who were willing to pass the budget were not willing to compromise, were simply not true.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry pondered what seemed to be holding the budget up. It seemed that Council had agreed on all of the numbers, and he wondered what was holding the document up. A Detroit News article quoted Member Nagy as saying he was not compromising on the City Attorney fees, and that was what had held up the budget approval. It was quoted in the newspaper that the City Council majority was not willing to go out to bid on the City Attorney. This is not true. At that last meeting of April, Council voted to go out to bid beginning October 1st. However, those who are not willing to pass the budget at this point want to go out to bid immediately for the City Attorney. Also, it had been suggested by those who were not willing to pass the budget yet that Council should only fund, instead of the $375,000, one-half of that amount, about $187,500, for the City Attorney. He questioned why Council would do this. He had been told this was a matter of strategy, strategy because the City would be going out to bid and the money should not be in the budget because any potential legal services provider would know what is in the City’s budget, and would fix their bid accordingly. First of all, the City has never seen the need to do this in the past, ever. In the last year, the City has gone out to bid on engineering and hired a new engineering firm, but did not do this; hired a wetland consultant but did not do this; hired a façade consultant but did not do this; and the City is currently going out to bid for a traffic engineer but has not done this. Any applicant for legal services can simply obtain the minutes of any City Council meeting and, relatively quickly, find out how much money Council had allocated for the year for Attorney fees. Any applicant can go to the Library and obtain copies of last year’s budget. Most importantly, in the past with the existing City Attorney, after they submitted their bids and were interviewed, the City Council looked at the firm’s proposed fees and negotiated them down. The current City Attorney is willing to accept a contract and lower their fees, even after they submitted the bid. To him, it did not make sense to not put the entire allocated amount in the budget. He felt that the reason for not doing so was the "Trojan horse" argument – there is something hidden inside the argument. He feels that what is inside the Trojan horse is a belief that if Council does not fund the entire year for the City Attorney, that by the time it rolls around to making a decision on what firm to accept, some believe this would be a decision involving an appropriation of funds that would require a five-vote majority instead of a simple four-vote majority; therefore, a minority of Council could prevent the current City Attorney from being rehired. People had been told that what was holding up the budget was not going out to bid immediately and appropriating more than $187,500 to legal fees. He asked Mr. Helwig if it was possible for the City to go out to bid for the City Attorney on June 1st.
Mr. Helwig replied that administration could begin the process whenever Council directs.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry asked if the City goes out to bid for the City Attorney on June 1st, if it would be reasonable to request that responses be made within 60 days, by August 1st.
Mr. Helwig replied that he believed this would be reasonable.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry asked if the City were to receive the responses by August 1st, if administration could have those tabulated and presented to the Consultant Review Committee by the beginning of September.
Mr. Helwig replied that this could be done.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry noted that he was reasonably confident that the Consultant Review Committee could hold interviews in September and come back to Council for recommendations in October or November. He asked if this was a fair statement.
Mr. Helwig replied that the City could do this.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry asked Mr. Fisher if Council were to adopt a budget that had a line item for the City Attorney for $187,500, and Council was deciding in October or November who to hire for the City Attorney, how many votes it would take to pass that motion, four or five.
Mr. Fisher asked Mayor Pro Tem Landry if he was referring to the City Attorney selection.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry replied that this was correct, just for the selection.
Mr. Fisher replied that he believed this was a separate vote than the allocation of money, so it would require four votes.
CM-04-05-207 Moved by Landry, seconded by Capello; MOTION FAILED (Five Votes Required): To adopt the budget as presented by administration with all changes and compromises made until that evening, with two additional compromises: number one, that City Council do whatever is necessary to go to bid by June 1st for the City Attorneys; number two, that the line item for the City Attorneys be $187,500, and the other half be parked in the fund balance. In addition, $50,000 shall be transferred from the judgment trust fund to the Parks, Recreation, and Forestry Department, for a total of $76,374, to be used as that department’s Director sees fit upon advice from the Parks, Recreation, and Forestry Commission. None of the additional funding for the Parks, Recreation, and Forestry Department shall be allocated towards computer software upgrades.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry said this motion should carry a majority, because it captures the only remaining issue, which was apparently the City Attorneys.
Mayor Csordas wished to clarify where Council stood with the budget. Council had two police sergeants, two firefighters, and $100,000 originally in the judgment trust fund.
Mr. Helwig noted that the Fire Department personnel were one fire lieutenant and one fire captain.
Mayor Csordas noted that Council also had removed one dispatch position at approximately $62,000, had added one administrative sergeant for approximately $74,520, slashed the Historical Commission budget by $11,500, reduced City-wide training significantly by $7,000, slashed conferences and workshops by $11,200, greenways was added to the Planning Commission, emerging issues were slashed by $11,075, the communications liaison was cut, magazines and periodicals were cut, memberships dues were cut, the Planning Director position was reinstated for $57,835, temporary salaries were taken out, there was a transfer to the Parks, Recreation, and Forestry Department of $26,374, and a transfer to the judgment trust fund of $50,000, which would bring that to a balance of $150,000. Mayor Pro Tem Landry’s motion also included the City Attorney item.
Member Capello recalled that at the prior meeting, a Council member had made a motion to approve the budget with a change of transferring $50,000 from the trust fund to Parks, Recreation, and Forestry. This was not an amendment to the budget, but was rather a part of the motion that failed. As a friendly amendment, he asked to have the $50,000 transferred from the judgment trust fund to Parks, Recreation, and Forestry. What the Mayor had read was accurate without that amendment to the motion.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry said that Member Capello was correct, that the $50,000 transfer was part of a motion that did not pass. That transfer would actually be an extra $76,374, and would be used as the Parks, Recreation, and Forestry Director saw fit upon advice of the Parks, Recreation, and Forestry Commission. He said he would accept the friendly amendment.
Mayor Csordas noted that the friendly amendment took $50,000 that was proposed to the judgment trust fund and added that money to Parks, Recreation, and Forestry, for a total of $76,374.
Member Capello said the process for Parks, Recreation, and Forestry works as this: the Parks, Recreation, and Forestry Department comes to Council to describe how it desires to spend the year’s money. Council does not try to micromanage what that department does. He agrees that the ball fields need work; his son did not play baseball, but did play soccer, and he felt the same way. Other cities’ fields are in much better shape than Novi’s. The City has to comply with ADA requirements, which costs $125,000 of Parks, Recreation, and Forestry’s money that cannot be specifically allocated towards improvement of a park. The City also has had problems with the ash borer, and has to spend money to remove infested trees before they cause additional damage; this will cost another $200,000. The list of priorities proposed from the Parks, Recreation, and Forestry Commission has improvements to Community Sports Park as the seventh or eighth highest priority. Council has tried to give that department additional money, and came up with an additional $78,000. Now, Parks, Recreation, and Forestry needs to be lobbied on how to spend that additional money.
Member Paul wished to make some points of clarification. She asked if the third sergeant was already included in the budget document.
Mayor Csordas replied that this was correct.
Member Paul said she wanted to discuss this item. When she had talked to Ms. Smith-Roy, the dispatcher was in question. She asked administration how the City can fund the dispatcher in the long-term, as the Police Chief had stated that the department definitely needs 16 dispatchers.
Mr. Helwig said that perhaps two years ago, Council had increased the number of dispatchers from 14 to 16, and authorized administration to make some other changes, including 12-hour shifts, and higher pay so that the City could be more competitive. All of these were aimed at reducing personnel turnover and stabilizing that critical element of the City’s emergency services. The Police Department has had some experience in working with 16 dispatchers. In order to stay at that 16 level, the City has done some overfilling, but must live within the appropriation of whatever Council designates for the number of dispatchers. If Council designates 15, the City must live with that number. He had talked with Chief Shaeffer, who understands this. If there is a lot of turnover on the horizon, the City can overfill for a while in an attempt to not go down to 13 or 14 dispatchers and still live within Council’s appropriations. If Council sets the appropriation at 15 dispatchers, this is what the City must live with at the end of the fiscal year. The number on board could creep to 16 for a little bit of the year as the City tries to manage and maintain that critical service. Whether 15 or 16 is appropriate, administration does honestly not know. The City has had so little experience with that number that this is not known. The Chief, in good faith, is making a choice; if he had a choice, he would prefer to have the third sergeant than the 16th dispatcher. Mr. Helwig noted that he had not recommended this in administration’s proposed budget.
Member Paul said it was her understanding from the Chief’s conversation that the Police Department needs 16 dispatchers.
Mr. Helwig said Chief Shaeffer would go with 15 dispatchers if Council would give him an extra sergeant.
Member Paul said she understood, but really wanted "more Indians than Chiefs." She was looking at bodies on the road. Mr. Helwig is the person that has to come to Council for allocated people, and had told Council before that he needed 16 dispatchers. Now, the City would be down to 15. If the Police Department is on 12-hour shifts, she guessed that there would be two shifts of four people for a day, four people on the morning 12-hour shift, and four people on the evening 12-hour shift. Dispatchers would then switch, three days one week, four days the next week. If this was the case, she inquired how the Police Department would work with only 15 dispatchers.
Chief Shaeffer said his previous statements were that the Police Department could work with 15 dispatchers plus the overage position.
Member Paul said that Chief Shaeffer was saying that he needed the overage position all of the time, not just some of the time. She asked how the City would come up with the 16th person.
Mr. Helwig said that administration could not do this if Council appropriated for only 15 dispatchers. The Chief cannot have both 16 dispatchers and three sergeants.
Member Paul asked how many dispatchers are needed.
Chief Shaeffer replied that his department prefers to have 16 dispatchers, with four on duty at any given time. Because of vacation and sick time off, the department will sometimes go down to three or even two. The allocation of shifts was as Member Paul had described. He said he really needs 16 dispatchers, and this was what he preferred to have.
Member Paul said she was hearing that Chief Shaeffer would like to have 16 dispatchers, and Council was adding two sergeants so that they could go to 12-hour shifts. She originally wanted three police officers and was willing to go to two sergeants and make that compromise and add a police officer. Council could add the police officer and third sergeant with forfeiture funds. If the Police Department needs 16 dispatchers, then Council could not "steal from Peter to pay Paul", and she did not understand what Council was trying to do. She said she would support what was said in the administrative budget. She had also supported reinstating the Planning Director. She would support adding two sergeants, keeping 16 dispatchers, and would support leaving the Engineering Department alone. Administration wanted a 3.25% raise and she was willing to do that. She also wanted money for Parks, Recreation, and Forestry.
Member Paul said that at the previous meeting, Council had said that there was $3.9 million for Parks, Recreation, and Forestry. She had since received several phone calls asking why the City’s parks look so "crummy" if the City pays $3.9 million per year for them. She wanted the public to know where $3.9 million was really spent, as she knew that it was not spent on completing the City’s parks.
Ms. Smith-Roy said the Parks, Recreation, and Forestry fund is $3.8 million, not $3.9 million. Of that money, $2.2 million comes from the millage and park programs, which is where the revenue comes to cover some of the expenditures in the Parks, Recreation, and Forestry Department. $652,000 is transferred from the general fund to help cover programs that are subsidized; this would be the forestry area, senior programs, and youth programs. $885,000 is for the debt service outstanding on the purchase of parkland that was approved in a bond issue.
Member Paul asked if this was for Community Sports Park.
Ms. Smith-Roy said the debt service was for a number of different properties, not just one location. The total bond issue was $9.9 million. The City is now repaying that money, so a portion of the City’s tax millage today goes towards the repayment of that debt.
Member Paul asked if the City was really paying off what it had purchased, including the Ice Arena, Community Sports Park, the Senior Center, the senior program, the youth program, and everything else.
Ms. Smith-Roy replied that this was not correct, as the debt service was just for land. The bond issue was parkland only. Meadowbrook Commons, the senior housing facility, and the Ice Arena, are what are called enterprise funds, and are independent. Those bond issues are separate and must be paid off from the facilities themselves.
Member Paul said she wanted to make sure that the public was aware that $3.9 million is not just squandered, as this was a real question that people have had concerns about. She said she also wanted to talk about goals. There were several short-term and long-term goals. She had asked if Council was going to redo these goals, and she was told that Council would go with the existing goals, which she was fine with. The goals came from another Council before her. Four members that presently sit on Council were at this goals session. One of the processes that Mr. Helwig had spoken of was that the short-term and long-term goals are both basically to improve parks both in the short and long terms. On October 17, 2002, Mr. Helwig had asked Council members if there were any comments regarding the completion of improvements in City parks. Everyone had agreed that this was something Council really wanted to do. Then-Member Landry had made a point of saying that Council would like to include sidewalks under the long-term goals, which was basically accepted at that time. There were three different meetings set: the first being October 17, 2002, then February 8, 2003, and March 29, 2003. All of those meetings made reference to these goals. She said she wanted the public to be aware that these were goals set long before three current Council members, Member Gatt, herself, and Member Nagy. With those goals, Council will work with limited funds. She said she wants to see money going to the City’s parks.
Member Paul said there was a memo sent April 26th talking about Community Sports Park proposed irrigation. Both Mr. Lewis and Mr. Auler had done a very nice job in trying to figure out how to irrigate, install a new well and pumping mechanism. Community Sports Park II is underway and is almost near completion. Fields one, three, four and five were the fields that would be irrigated. She asked what age group plays on those fields.
Mr. Lewis replied that different ages use the fields, from ages 6 through 12.
Member Paul said that the irrigation of the ball fields would improve the turf. This was just a suggestion that she had made that she felt would be helpful. Her son is now 12. She wanted to make it clear that this was not a self-serving interest. She will never have her child play on the fields in question, but the majority of the Novi Youth Baseball League has kids 12 and under playing. She wants to serve the park that serves the most kids. The City has taken care of the soccer fields, which she is thrilled about. The park irrigation for the baseball diamonds is another great thing that serves many children. The majority of Novi Youth Baseball League players are under 12 years old. The Parks, Recreation, and Forestry Department can irrigate the fields if it wants to, but she just wants the money to go to the department. The last number that she had heard, $76,374 was the last number that she had heard, and this money would be very helpful to that department. However the money needs to be allocated is fine, but she would like the money to go towards completion of the parks, not the Singh trail, and also not the software package. If this means $76,000 for ADA, then this is wonderful; if the money is for irrigation of the ball diamonds, then she also completely supports it. A ramp for ADA at Lakeshore Park had also been mentioned.
Member Paul said that when she was talking about Ms. Smith-Roy’s needs for the software package that Council had discussed, which in the near future the entire City will have to adopt, she had asked if the Safari package would really be necessary. The Safari software package was something that Parks, Recreation, and Forestry desired in order to allow online registration. She had asked Ms. Smith-Roy that if the City has the new software package, how the City would go about doing this. Ms. Smith-Roy had replied that the City would possibly hire a consultant and would have to look for what package would be the best. Member Paul said she does not want to see Council spend the money now for $25,000 when the City does not have a lot of extra funds, then come down with the $1,000,000 that it will have to spend for the entire City’s software package, not just the Finance Department, and possibly find that the software was not compatible or necessary because the City will get a new, upgraded system. She cautioned that if the extra money for Parks, Recreation, and Forestry passes, her interest would be to spend the money on park completion. She supports all park improvements. She asked Ms. Smith-Roy if there was anything that she wanted to add.
Ms. Smith-Roy replied that this was what had been discussed. She advised waiting for the City-wide solution in order to avoid piecemeal upgrades, as this would be to the best advantage of the City as a whole.
Member Paul asked for an amendment to the amendment, to not allocate Parks, Recreation, and Forestry money to the software package, as she said she did not want to spend that money twice.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry said that he understood the amendment request, but would not be in favor because he felt that next year Council would have to seriously address the issue of software in City offices. Mr. Helwig had alluded that the day may have come that Council might have to decide whether it wants to levy the additional millage, which has been allowed. That is the only way to get that extra $1 million. In order to do that, the City needs to immediately start looking into what software packages are out there so that it can begin to analyze what is available and what the City’s needs are.
Member Paul noted that the Parks, Recreation, and Forestry Department had indicated that it might like to allocate some money to software. Kathy Smith-Roy had asked Council to wait and not put the funding towards this software because it might be included in the $1 million software package. Council would then be spending this money twice. She asked Ms. Smith-Roy to reiterate what she had previously stated.
Ms. Smith-Roy said the thought process was what the Parks, Recreation, and Forestry Department and Commission had recommended, but administration had not brought forward in its recommendation in the budget process, was for an upgrade to that department’s existing system to allow them online registration. Administration was asking that Council hold off on upgrades until a solution is developed. She suggested that this could be one of the first things for administration to address. Perhaps the software desired by Parks, Recreation, and Forestry is compatible with what the direction is once a recommendation is obtained, but administration does not know this at this time.
Mayor Csordas asked if that money was not included in this budget.
Ms. Smith-Roy replied that the money was not currently in the budget.
Member Capello said that in the current motion, Mr. Auler had $78,000 to allocate where he chooses. He asked if Mr. Auler were to allocate $25,000 of that money towards the software, if he would come to Mr. Helwig and talk about it first.
Mr. Helwig replied that Mr. Auler would absolutely do so, and would come to City Council for award of whatever contract or service provider would be necessary. As is the case with most budget items, Council sees them when it is appropriating the funds, and also sees them when Council is spending the funds.
Member Capello said that as he understood Member Paul’s request, the motion tells the Parks, Recreation, and Forestry Department that it can use the $78,000 as it sees fit. Member Paul wanted to require that the money could not be used for software.
Member Paul replied that this was correct.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry said he thought that in the Parks, Recreation, and Forestry budget, the money was already requested for the software.
Member Paul said she was requesting that Council remove the possibility for the Parks, Recreation, and Forestry Department to utilize the $76,000 for the software. She would like the money to go towards the goal that City Council had set, completion of the City’s parks.
Member Capello said that according to priorities, if Council gave the money to the Parks, Recreation, and Forestry Department strictly to follow priorities with, the software package would fit in. However, with Mr. Helwig having the say and the fact that the matter would come back to Council, he felt that Council was well protected against this use.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry said he would accept the friendly amendment.
Member Gatt asked Chief Shaeffer how many dispatchers the City has had employed at one time in the last 12 months, the highest number.
Chief Shaeffer replied that this was probably 17.
Mr. Helwig said that the City had reached a peak of 19 dispatchers when two employees were reinstated after a long-term suspension.
Member Gatt asked if, when the Police Department had 19 dispatchers working, whether the City ever went over the allotted money for the 16 dispatchers.
Ms. Smith-Roy replied that the City did go over that amount this year. However, administration has not come to Council with the final budget amendment because it reviews personnel services in the month of June, and comes to Council then with the final budget recommendation for the year.
Member Gatt asked Chief Shaeffer to describe a typical dispatch scenario; if there were four dispatchers working, he asked what they do.
Chief Shaeffer replied that it is very generous when the Police Department has four dispatchers working at once, as it is more a rare occasion than it is the rule. The Police Department has dispatchers assigned to two radio systems. The first is the fire side, and works exclusively with the actual two-way radio communication system with fire. The other is assigned to the two-way radio communication system with police. The other two dispatchers serve in support of those dispatchers, and answer telephones and also dispatch to police, fire, and support mode. There are also myriad other activities that the dispatchers perform.
Member Gatt asked Chief Shaeffer if he would say that there are certain hours of the day where four dispatchers would be too many.
Chief Shaeffer said that generally this was correct.
Member Gatt asked if in the past couple of years, when Council had allocated for 16 dispatchers, the City had been able to overfill that 17th position for most of the year.
Ms. Smith-Roy replied that it was difficult to identify exactly if this was true for the dispatch. For this year, the dispatch department within the Police Department has been over because of the 19 positions.
Member Gatt said this was because of a quirk where two people who had lost their job had won their job back through an arbitration award.
Ms. Smith-Roy noted that this was correct.
Member Gatt asked if in a normal time, when Council had only allocated for 16 dispatchers and was only able to overfill to 17, this had been able to go on for most of the year.
Ms. Smith-Roy said that as far as she could tell, the City had been able to do this. Her assumption was that the average number had still been 16.
Member Gatt asked if the budget were to pass with 15 authorized dispatchers and Council was able to "work the magic" and get this number up to 16 for most of the time, if having only 15 dispatchers for a period of time would be a danger to the City’s citizens.
Chief Shaeffer replied this was a function that the Police Department would certainly make work, as they had done so in the past. The Police Department had asked for 16 dispatchers. Council was generous, saw the need, and granted this. They have made the department work with 15 in recent times because of vacancies. Certainly, as he had expressed earlier that evening, the Police Department would try to fill as rapidly as it possibly could.
Member Gatt asked Chief Shaeffer that if he had his druthers, whether he would rather have an allocation of 15 dispatchers and hope that Council could somehow get the average number up to 16, or if he would rather have an administrative sergeant upstairs to assist him.
Chief Shaeffer commented that both positions are crucial, so it was very difficult to provide a direct answer.
Member Capello asked if the two sergeants that Council had already included in the budget were road and patrol sergeants.
Chief Shaeffer replied that this was correct.
Member Capello noted there would be three new officers on the road: two sergeants, and one patrolman, with this budget. He asked if it was correct that the administrative sergeant would come from removing one dispatcher.
Chief Shaeffer replied that he believed this was what Council had discussed.
Member Capello noted that the City would be getting three new people on the road for the Police Department.
Member Nagy wished to clarify some points that had not been mentioned. Council had held several budget meetings, and at the second meeting Council actually had six members of Council present, not seven. Therefore, the makers of the motion that the previous speaker had alluded to were actually in the majority at that meeting. She did not want to talk about minority and majority because that was not relevant in this case. She felt that the reason that Council had taken items out of the budget, whether through reductions like conferences or emerging issues, was that as a past member of the Planning Commission, she did not feel that the money was utilized. One of the reasons that Council was looking through departments for various reductions was so that Council could fund the third patrol officer that was in that motion. Council was taking bits and pieces from various places so that it could have a patrol officer that could patrol the City’s streets and neighborhoods.
Member Nagy stated that she had made her compromises, and felt that the compromises she had made were much greater than the bits and pieces of budgets that were cut in order to fund the third patrol officer. She also was the person who made the last motion of the previous meeting, and only for one item did that motion not pass. The compromise that she has personally made is that she has kept the Plan Review Center, which includes the Planning Department and Engineering Department, intact by not removing any position from either of those departments. She did not remove any administrative position whatsoever, she supported to reinstate the position of Planning Director, she supported maintaining the 3.25% administrative salary increase as requested by the City Manager instead of the 2.0% to 2.5% increase that she felt was reasonable, she compromised on sending out for bids for legal services to September 1, 2004, instead of July 1, 2004. Council has a policy that it sends out for legal services bids every three years, and it is well past the six-month mark. She compromised by agreeing to two sergeants and one patrol officer instead of three patrol officers, which would have been her personal preference from speaking to residents as to what they would have liked. She went along with Chief Shaeffer and his request. She feels that she has made her compromises, and as far as she was concerned, she could not support the motion that was on the table.
Mayor Csordas said to get member Nagy out here now so she can vote on the motion. Member Cappello said please. Mayor Csordas said there had been too much talk about compromise and no consideration for the well-being of this City and its residents. Playing politics with the City budget is reckless and is not good for the City or its residents. It is time for City Council to act as elected officials and get the budget approved, and deal with things as they come up through the year. He asked Council to start acting like people who had been elected to represent the people of the City. Mayor Csordas said to read the motion.
Roll Call Vote on CM-04-05-207 Yeas: Landry, Capello, Gatt, Csordas
Nays: Lorenzo, Nagy, Paul
Mayor Csordas said he wanted to hear from the members of Council that were holding up the budget to explain why.
Member Paul said she had already stated why she voted no. She was in support of the Police Department and would like to have the two sergeants and the police officer continued, but the 16th dispatcher is necessary. Chief Shaeffer could not make a decision between the 16th dispatcher and the third administrative sergeant. The City has forfeiture funds coming. She would like to wait until that time to discuss those additions. Council was already adding three people to the Police Department. To add a third sergeant or a fourth person to the Police Department, she could not support. She said she was all in favor of discussing those positions when the City receives the forfeiture funds, which come at the same time that Council was discussing hiring the additional person, January. The top City administrator does not recommend this hiring. She would not be in support of the additional hire. If the third administrative sergeant came out, she would be in support of the motion.
Mayor Csordas asked if this was Member Paul’s only sticking point.
Member Paul replied this was correct.
Mayor Csordas said that Member Paul had mentioned "robbing from Peter to pay Paul." He said he had supported the budget since day one. The budget that was proposed by the City Manager and administration was prudent, made sense, and there was no reason for the nonsense going on with Council. In terms of robbing Peter to pay Paul, he commented that Member Paul had been paid. He said that Council had moved everything that it could over to Parks, Recreation, and Forestry. He said he wasn’t going to use the word concession because he was sick of it. He state he was sick of sitting there and talking about something that should have been handled at the first meeting. If Member Paul was saying that’s the only thing that she had that was opposing this, how about it.
CM-04-05-208 Moved by Nagy, seconded by Lorenzo; MOTION FAILED: To adopt the fiscal year 2004-05 budget subject to the following amendments: to reduce the judgment trust fund by $50,000, leaving a balance of $100,000; to reallocate $42,520 to Parks, Recreation, and Forestry, for a total of $68,894, to be used towards the completion of City parks as well as to meet requirements for the Americans with Disabilities Act, excluding trails and software; to allocate $20,000 for matching funds for the firefighters’ masks grant if the grant is awarded; if the grant for the firefighters’ masks is not awarded, that $20,000 shall be allocated to Parks, Recreation, and Forestry, for the completion of parks excluding trails and software for a total of $88,894; to advertise bids for City Attorney legal services September 1, 2004; to retain the law firm of Secrest Wardle until 12-31-04 under the current contract; to reduce the legal services line item for City Attorney to $175,000, which represents one-half of $350,000; to remove the third administrative sergeant position; to add one dispatcher position, for a total of 16 dispatchers with no overfill position.
Mayor Csordas asked where the differences are. Kathy Smith Roy stated the differences would be the fire grant of $20,000, the bid advertisement for legal services would be moved from July to September, the addition of the expiration of the Secrest contract to 12-31-04, the reduction of legal services by $200,000 instead of $187,500 and the addition of the dispatcher to 16 and the reduction of the administrative Sergeant.
Mayor Csordas asked where $350,000 showed up in the budget.
Member Nagy said that this was the amount that had been discussed by Council.
Mayor Csordas said there was $375,000 allocated for that line item.
Member Nagy said that last year this amount was $350,000.
Mayor Csordas commented that he found it interesting that in the newspaper, Member Nagy said the only thing holding up the budget was the attorney’s fees.
Member Lorenzo said that in terms of the dispatch position, Council had received a memorandum from Tia Gronlund-Fox, Director of Human Resources, dated May 20, 2004. That memorandum stated, "If Council did adopt this staffing level for our dispatch center, it would be the goal of administration to average 15 dispatchers through attrition, which means we’re going to need to reduces the 16 bodies by 1 body which means we’re going to need to give someone a pink slip She asked if this was accurate.
Mr. Helwig said that if there was no turnover in the first three months of the new fiscal year, then administration would have to reduce the number of dispatchers from 16 to 15.
Member Lorenzo said that if someone didn’t retire, we would have to reduce the number. If Council did not do this, it would be impossible to retain 16 dispatchers without paying for 16. If Council says 15 dispatchers with an overfill position, Council would still be saying that for at least part of the year, the City will have to fund a 16th dispatcher. If Council did not fund the dispatcher with the budget, it would have to go to the fund balance to pay for the position later on. Council was really talking about spending more money than the $62,000, as that money was being taken and given to the sergeant position. Her concern was that if the City needs a 16th dispatcher, then it needs a 16th dispatcher, and Council needs to fund that position. Council could not fund the extra sergeant without taking the money from that dispatcher position. This was why she supported the motion on the table and not the previous motion.
Roll Call Vote on CM-04-05-208 Yeas: Lorenzo, Nagy, Paul
Nays: Capello, Gatt, Csordas, Landry
Member Paul noted that Mayor Csordas had asked why she did not support CM-04-05-207. She asked why Mayor Csordas, Mayor Pro Tem Landry, and Members Capello and Gatt had not supported CM-04-05-208.
Mayor Csordas replied that he did not support the motion because he was sick of playing politics with the people of the City and with the budget. Everybody should start stepping up to the table and acting like elected officials.
Member Paul said she wanted to understand what each member of Council was looking for in the motion. The only difference that she had seen between the two motions was three sergeants and decreasing one dispatcher with Mayor Pro Tem Landry’s motion, and instituting the firefighters’ grant for $20,000 and two sergeants and 16 dispatchers with Member Nagy’s motion.
Member Capello said he had no comment.
Mayor Csordas said he also had no comment.
CM-04-05-209 Moved by Landry, seconded by Capello; MOTION FAILED (Five Votes Required): To adopt the fiscal year 2004-05 budget with all of the changes made prior, and: to go out to bid for City Attorney services on June 1st, 2004; to allocate $187,500 for the City Attorney legal fees line item; to place an additional $187,500 in the fund balance; allocate an additional $50,000 to Parks, Recreation, and Forestry for a total of $76,374 to be spent according to the Parks, Recreation, and Forestry Director in consultation with the Parks, Recreation, and Forestry Commission, with the understanding that the money shall not be spent on the upgrade of that department’s software system; and to remain at 16 dispatchers and not hire the third administrative sergeant. The additional $12,520 shall also be transferred to the Parks, Recreation, and Forestry Department, to be used in the same manner as the additional $76,374.
Member Paul said that if the dispatcher position was reinstated and Council did not hire a third administrative sergeant, she believed Council would have to put less money into Parks, Recreation, and Forestry.
Mr. Helwig replied that Council would gain $12,520 if it accepted the motion on the table. The money could be programmed additionally wherever Council would like.
Member Capello suggested putting that money back towards Parks, Recreation, and Forestry.
Member Paul asked Mr. Helwig where he had found the $12,520.
Mr. Helwig replied that this figure was derived from subtracting the $62,000 that would be the savings from going from 16 dispatchers to 15, from the $74,520 that would be the increased cost of the third sergeant. Council would thus pick up $12,520 that would be available for reprogramming.
Member Paul said she did not have a problem with this motion and could support it.
Member Capello asked where the money being saved would be allocated.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry said that this was "nowhere, now."
Member Paul thought that the $12,520 would be allocated to Parks, Recreation, and Forestry.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry asked why the software would be taken out if Council was going to allocate this money to Parks, Recreation, and Forestry.
Member Capello asked for a friendly amendment to put the additional $12,520 towards Parks, Recreation, and Forestry.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry commented that to get the deal done, he would gladly accept the amendment.
Mayor Csordas asked what the total amount was from the budget amendments that would be going towards the Parks, Recreation, and Forestry Department.
Mr. Helwig replied that this was $88,894.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry noted that this additional $12,520 was to be spent according to how the Parks, Recreation, and Forestry Department, in consultation with the Parks, Recreation, and Forestry Commission, sees fit, but not for software.
Member Lorenzo asked for two amendments to the motion. One was to reprogram the $20,000 for the City match for the firefighters’ grant, and the second was to include retaining Secrest Wardle until 12-31-04 under their current contract.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry said he could respectfully not accept the friendly amendments.
Member Capello said that if the City gets the grant, Council will come up with the $20,000 to match.
Mr. Helwig said that Council had authorized applying for that grant, and the money would come out of the fund balance rainy day funds unless identified otherwise.
Member Capello said that part of the request for the amendment was a moot point.
Member Paul asked why a completion date could not be put on the legal firm. This was the only thing that was a question to her with the motion.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry said this was because it was not known when the City would have spent the legal services funding. This could be September 1st or it could be next March, nobody knows when.
Member Paul said that Council was doing the right thing, but that the date needed to be included.
Roll Call Vote on CM-04-05-209 Yeas: Gatt, Csordas, Landry, Capello
Nays: Lorenzo, Nagy, Paul
Mayor Csordas said that there was clearly a moving target.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry commented that the Trojan horse had been opened. He felt that the issue was about firing the City Attorney. All of the money had been allocated.
Member Capello said that Member Paul had just told the members supporting the motion that if the dispatcher was included she would vote in favor of the motion. He commented that Member Paul had changed her mind "within three damn minutes."
Mayor Csordas said he did not feel the language was necessary.
Member Capello said, "Excuse me."
Member Gatt said the situation was atrocious. There are several hundred people that work for the City of Novi right now that are planning on getting married, planning on moving, planning on buying things, and planning on going on vacations. Those employees will not be able to do this because Mr. Helwig, out of necessity, had to send them a letter saying that their last paycheck will be June 30th. Accordingly, the people in the City of Novi are not getting the service that they deserve and are paying for because the workers are thinking about what they will be doing July 1st. Council members should not be elected officials of the community if they cannot agree on the budget. He thought that Council had an agreement that had fallen apart for no reason.
Member Capello said he had been in the Council annex when Member Paul had come up to him and said, "If you keep the dispatcher and give up the administrative sergeant, I can support Mr. Landry’s motion." Council came out, discussed the matter, put an extra $12,000 into Parks, Recreation, and Forestry, and Member Paul voted "no" again. This was consistently what some Council members were battling to get five votes. They had a moving target, would never get a budget approved, and he said he was tired of wasting his valuable family time to come to the Council meeting and "play games with these women."
CM-04-05-210 Moved by Landry, seconded by Capello; MOTION CARRIED: To adjourn the Special Emergency Crisis Meeting until Wednesday, May 26, 2004, at 7:00 p.m.
Roll Call Vote on CM-04-05-210 Yeas: Csordas, Landry, Capello, Gatt
Nays: Lorenzo, Nagy
Jim Hinkle, Orchard Ridge, said he was ashamed to listen to the City’s elected officials. The next time it comes around, he said he would make sure that many on Council are not around. As far as the Police Department, he drives the City’s streets all the time and they are terrific. In his opinion, the City needs patrolmen, sergeants, and dispatchers. Those people help save lives and do things, while Council was not doing anything. Residents elected Council to do a job, and he felt that Council was doing its job poorly. He felt that Mayor Csordas was doing a good job of holding Council together. The City needed to get the budget passed that evening, not the next evening.
Ginger Barrons, Glenda Street, said it would be helpful to during the struggle of passing the budget, since this was something that Council would have to do the next evening, for Council members to go home that evening, reflect, and come back on a clean slate, not coming back with a speech about who did what, who said what, what their reasons are for doing what they did. Council needed to come back with a clean slate and just look at the budget, not the reasons why people might or might not have supported it. Nobody really knows what somebody else is doing except for that person inside and why they went for what they went for. It would be helpful to put all recriminations aside, start clean, and start fresh. This would be the best way that Council could serve the citizens of Novi. It seemed to her that we’re holding the past against passing a budget. What Council should be doing is come together. This could not be done if the next evening began with a speech of recrimination.
Dawn Ralstrom, 45273 Yorkshire Drive, said she was also a longtime resident of Novi. She said she was disheartened by the events that she had seen occur in Council Chambers. Council was elected by the residents of the City to represent the City. The animosity, personal issues, and personal agenda have no place at the Council table. She requested that Council pass the budget, but if it cannot, then members should consider resigning from their positions.
Wayne Hogan said he felt Council was on track with the reprogramming of funds into the Parks, Recreation, and Forestry Department, especially for ADA improvements. Those requirements have been neglected. In the motion that required the additional Parks, Recreation, and Forestry funding not be spent on software it had also been said the money should not be spent on the Singh trail, though he did not hear this mentioned the last time that the motion was made. He asked that this be included in the motion so that the Parks, Recreation, and Forestry Department cannot use that money on the Singh trails.
There being no further business to come before Council, Mayor Csordas adjourned the meeting at 8:18 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, May 26, 2004.
Lou Csordas, Mayor Maryanne Cornelius, City Clerk
Transcribed by Steve King
Date approved: June 21, 2004