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Continuation of SPECIAL EMERGENCY CRISIS MEETING OF THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF NOVI from Tuesday, May 25, 2004
Beginning WEDNESDAY, MAY 26, 2004 AT 7:00 P.M.
COUNCIL CHAMBERS - NOVI CIVIC CENTER - 45175 W. TEN MILE ROAD
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 – absent/excused, Paul
Ms. Cornelius noted that Member Nagy had requested that a statement be read into the record:
The issue of passing the budget is very important to me. However, I am unable to attend the meeting this evening due to the fact that I have a scheduled 5:00 deposition in Flint. After contacting my client, I was told that this deposition should last several hours. My apologies for not attending.
Mayor Csordas noted that Member Nagy had called him that day and expressed that she was very disappointed she was unable to get out of that deposition.
ALSO PRESENT Rick Helwig – City Manager
Craig Klaver – Chief Operating Officer
Gerald Fisher – City Attorney
Kathy Smith-Roy – Finance Director
APPROVAL OF AGENDA
CM-04-05-211 Moved by Lorenzo, seconded by Capello; CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: To approve the agenda as presented.
Voice Vote on CM-04-05-211 CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY
James Burton, 41736 Brownstone, said he had emailed a letter that he had wanted to be read into the record for the 5-19-04 meeting, but he understood Council had the letter in its packets. He sent that letter because he could see all of Council divided into two separate groups. He had not seen the previous night’s meeting, but his neighbors had, and they were outraged. Council cannot demean people or refer to people as "damn women." He said he would like to check with the federal government if there was something that could be done about Council members’ federal grants. Council members would not do this on their campaigns, but they did so at a meeting. He felt that the Council member that had made the comment should be ashamed.
Don Saven, Building Official for the City of Novi, thanked Council for the opportunity to speak. The previous evening concerned him a great deal. His department deals with many regulations. One of the issues that he is looking at is requirements of the State Enabling Act that requires the City notify people about boards and commissions and similar matters within a certain amount of time. Prior to this, he must investigate the particular issues that must come before his boards and commissions. There are issues such as the Zoning Board of Appeals dangerous building hearings that he was ready to schedule but was reluctant to do so because it could require someone having to come in from out of state. The issues that he deals with on a daily basis are very, very critical issues to this City. He deals with people who invest a great deal in the community. It is very disturbing to him that it takes time to put the projects together by virtue of plan review of four to six weeks to prepare for a building permit. He has to make very important decisions very soon, as his department is at critical mass. If it comes to pass that the City does not have a budget passed soon, he said he would not sign any certificates of occupancy unless he knows that the building has been inspected by his staff. Accountability is something that he takes very seriously. He has been part of the City since 1974, and this is the first time during that period that Council had gotten to this particular point with the budget. He commented that he knew what he was saying was probably wrong at this time, but he had to say it. He said he was very concerned for the community and was very concerned with where the City is going.
Mayor Csordas remarked that he did not feel what Mr. Saven had said was wrong at all. He believed that Council would pull together that evening.
Dave Creedon, 22237 Hazelton Court, noted that he has been a Novi resident for 32 years. What he saw on May 17th absolutely appalled him. Unfortunately he had not seen the previous night’s meeting, but from what he understood it was worse than what had transpired on May 17th. Living in the City for 31 years, he said he has seen the best and the worst of Novi. Unfortunately, he voted for four of the people sitting on Council, and said he wished he had not done so. He said that Council needed to "get its heads where they belong."
David Ruyle, Mill Court East, noted that there is a busy Memorial Day weekend coming up. Brightmoor Christian Church at Thirteen Mile and M-5, on Sunday morning at 9:00 and 10:45, will have its Patriot’s Day and will salute the living veterans, as well as the deceased ones. He wished to provide a personal invitation to Council and people of the viewing audience to attend. He said he was sadly disappointed. Council Member Capello and other Council members have preached to him, as well as to other Planning commissioners, that when opportunities come for their education to get it. That education can be used in departments and commissions. He was sadly told that week that the City could not afford $45 to send himself to Lansing for advanced training for citizen planners.
Sharon Burton, 41736 Brownstone Drive, said she was in attendance because of what was transpiring with the budget. This was the first time that she knew of in Novi’s history that the City was so far behind in balancing the budget. She commented that she was concerned about a Council that was not well-lead or getting along. She has previously voiced her concerns about different things; she has lost a vote and won a couple of votes, but you go on and work together as a team. She said she was tired of seeing the men on Council against the women. There needed to be leadership, she was disappointed, and she hoped that someone was in the position to give and think about the citizens of Novi.
PURPOSE OF SPECIAL MEETING
1. Discussion and adoption of 2004-2005 Budget Resolution
CM-04-05-212 Moved by Landry, seconded by Capello; CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: To adopt the City budget with all of the changes made to date, with the additions of going out to bid for City attorneys June 1st; budgeting $187,500 on the line item for the City Attorney; parking $187,500 in the fund balance; to allocate $88,374 to Parks, Recreation, and Forestry, with the stipulation that this money shall not be spent on software; retaining the number of police dispatchers at 16; and not adding the additional administrative sergeant that had been previously discussed.
Mayor Csordas asked if the $50,000 transferred from the judgment trust fund should be included in the motion.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry said that this money was part of the $88,374 or so going to the Parks, Recreation, and Forestry Department.
Member Paul asked if when Council moves the money into the general trust fund, what happens with the contract that exists with the current legal firm for the City.
Ms. Smith-Roy said that by virtue of the bid going out on June 1st, the City would at that point provide notice to the law firm, which is done in all contacts, as a courtesy to that firm that their services will be based upon whatever the date is within that contract, and that a new contract would be reissued to that firm if it is re-awarded a new contract. Additionally, the $187,500 that was being referred to, that goes into the fund balance could not be taken out of that balance unless there was an appropriation made by Council with five votes. The contract for the City Attorneys itself only requires four votes by virtue of the City Charter.
Member Paul said the Charter has two different components: the contract component, and also the money allocation.
Ms. Smith-Roy replied that this was correct.
Member Paul asked if Council were to go out to bid in June and had $187,500 to put in that line item to spend, how the City would hold to this and if Council could receive a monthly report about those funds. She said she does not want to get into a situation where the City does not have legal representation from someone. She asked if the $187,500 had been spent, the time was now October, and Council had still not hired another law firm, what would happen.
Mr. Helwig said that it would be advantageous, given the firm dollar amount that Council was considering, that the City restrict the number of administration staff who could authorize legal services to two: Maryanne Cornelius on behalf of City Council, and himself on behalf of the administration. He suggested that administration would report more frequently than monthly, in terms of entering into a more detailed and frequent billing timetable with legal services. This has become a major issue for Council, and like any other contract where administration must live within the parameters that Council sets, by Charter, administration cannot exceed that appropriation unless Council amends that appropriation. Administration would be in violation of the Charter if that happened. Those are the types of controls he would envision, and he would be held accountable for living within the proposed $187,500.
Member Paul asked if a letter will automatically be sent to the present legal firm when the City goes out to bid on June 1st, notifying that firm that the City is going out to be and also inviting them to re-bid.
Mr. Helwig replied that this was correct.
Member Paul noted that the firm needs 90 days’ notice, and the firm will have more than that timeframe regardless of whether Council does or does not rehire that firm.
Mr. Helwig said the spirit of what has been happening was this: Council had first visited this item at the end of April, and there has been in many ways due notice. In fact, other legal firms are starting to call the City because they have heard the discussion. While the gun has not gone off, the process is underway in terms of people being aware of the City’s process.
Member Paul asked if the letter would go out on June 1st with all of the other bid information.
Mr. Helwig said administration would start this the next week, as the following Tuesday was June 1, if Council authorized this.
Member Paul asked Mr. Fisher if the City has a contract with his firm, Council goes out to bid, has $145,000 that is spent but his firm is two months behind on its bills and is still doing the work and might charge over that amount of money, what would happen.
Mr. Helwig felt that it would be more appropriate for him to respond to the question. This was where he would be accountable for watching the draw-down and not putting the City in that position. Realizing that there is a delay in billing, he must have more than a sense of when that draw-down is getting close, just like is done with a person’s own household and paying for certain items. Administration would not wait for the billings to come in because the billings come in a month or 45 days after the cost has been incurred. The City would have to stop incurring costs at a point well before that.
Member Paul asked if there is no new contract and no firm whatsoever that Council has awarded the contract to, and is at $187,500, what would happen.
Mr. Helwig replied that in this case, given the press of business, he would come forward seeking an authorization if, in fact, administration has worthy requirements for legal services for an increase in that appropriation. He would need direction from Council on whether it would want to shut down legal services completely or whether it would want to amend things slightly until Council could finish the process. When Council has said to go out for proposals, administration has done this. It was just over one year ago that the City went through three major proposals in terms of services. The Consultant Review Committee worked very diligently with Council; staff worked very diligently; and administration will do the same thing on legal services.
Member Paul said she wanted to explain something, and wished to talk to people in the audience and at home. The previous night, one motion allotted $175,000, and another $187,500 in the legal services line item. To her, this was pittance when talking about a $25 million budget. She was willing to support either motion. The only difference that the contract made was that there was not an end date. Right now, there is an indefinite date to a contract. She does not think this makes good business sense. For example, the City had an engineering firm that was with it for over twenty-some years. The City has many problems that exist with its roads, with many different issues. While not all of those problems are a result of that engineering firm’s fault, it is good business practice to go out to bid to see how to stretch dollars in a very tight financial situation, and also to make prudent decisions based on considering many firms, not just one that everyone is comfortable with. With that being said, if Council would put the firm that is currently hired on notice, she would support the motion for the fact that notice would be provided on June 1; also, that this line item would be brought back to Council if the line item amount is approached to talk about what is needed for appropriation. She said she was not saying that she would not support this firm, but she just wants to have opportunities for citizens to look at all different legal firms that can be brought forward to this City. This will allow Council to be prudent in its expenditure.
Roll Call Vote on CM-04-05-212 Yeas: Csordas, Landry, Capello, Gatt, Lorenzo, Paul
Mayor Pro Tem Landry said that Council had made a previous decision to go out to bid in October. Council had now, as part of the budget, made a commitment to go out to bid on June 1st. He believed that technically speaking, Council needed to "clean that up."
Mr. Fisher replied that this was correct. There were two adopted motions outstanding that were in conflict. He recommended a motion to rescind on the motion that Council no longer wished to use.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry asked if, because it was not on the agenda, he first had to make a motion to amend the agenda.
Mr. Fisher said this was correct.
CM-04-05-213 Moved by Landry, seconded by Paul; CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: To amend the agenda to reconsider Council’s prior motion on when to go out to bid for City attorneys.
Roll Call Vote on CM-04-05-213 Yeas: Landry, Capello, Gatt, Lorenzo, Paul, Csordas
Mayor Pro Tem Landry asked if he could reconsider and decide to go out to bids on June 1st in the same motion.
Mr. Fisher responded that this would not really be a reconsideration, but would merely be a motion to rescind the other motion. The motion to go out to bids on June 1st was already made.
CM-04-05-214 Moved by Landry, seconded by Capello; CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: To rescind the prior action of Council, wherein it decided to wait until October 1st to go out to bid for attorney services.
Roll Call Vote on CM-04-05-214 Yeas: Capello, Gatt, Lorenzo, Paul, Csordas, Landry
Mr. Helwig commented that the City was fortunate to have reached this point that evening. He asked Council’s consideration of the resolution of adopting the administrative policy changes regarding healthcare cost containment, which was submitted as part of the motion sheet for when Council was considering the budget. These are the three steps for the administrative personnel to contain healthcare insurance costs.
Mayor Csordas asked if Council recalled what this was, or if it needed to discuss the matter.
CM-04-05-215 Moved by Landry, seconded by Capello; MOTION CARRIED: To approve of resolution adopting the administrative policy changes for healthcare cost containment.
Member Paul asked for a description of the policy change.
Mr. Helwig replied that these changes would come in three stages, six months apart. On July 1, 2004, administrative personnel would go to a $10/$20 prescription co-pay. On January 1, 2005, administrative personnel would contribute to the cost of their monthly health insurance premiums at 2.5%, pre-tax. On July 1, 2005, those employees who are enrolled in the family dependent continuation coverage for 19-25 year old dependents would bear 50% of the premium cost.
Roll Call Vote on CM-04-05-215 Yeas: Lorenzo, Paul, Csordas, Landry, Capello
AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION – None
CM-04-05-216 Moved by Capello, seconded by Lorenzo; CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: To adjourn the special meeting of Council.
Member Paul wished to make some comments about the positive things about Council. Many people had talked about how negative Council members had been, and she agreed. The previous night was disgraceful. She did not want to be sitting at the Council table it was so awful. She asked to go around the Council table to make comments.
Ms. Cornelius does a fabulous job. Every day she comes, she is pleasant, she is nice, supports Council, and will get Council members anything they need. Mr. Fisher’s stick-to-it-ness beats all. Mr. Klaver is always willing to help. Ms. Smith-Roy is unbelievable. When Council asks her a question she gets the answer. When she comes up with financial information it is fantastic. She is very happy that Mr. Helwig tries to get consensus from Council on his decisions. Member Lorenzo’s history and knowledge is unbelievable. She compared Member Lorenzo to the askjeeves.com website. Mayor Pro Tem Landry is a debater who can bring a point to head without any problem. Mayor Csordas’ professionalism is excellent. Member Capello does a great job and stays calm and rational. Member Gatt brings excellent things about MERS, about insurance, and all the different parts of police safety. She appreciates each and every person at the Council table. She said she hoped that Council could get past this point and never go down where it was the previous night. She said she hoped that Council could at least work together because she will never sit and endure what was done the previous evening. She does not care if someone agrees with her or not. Nobody can call her a "damn woman," or should start off an adversarial meeting. She does not want any more scolding. It does not belong at Council. Council should stay professional, keep its heads up, vote yes or no, and leave. If people will condemn who she is as a person or her sex, she will not stand for it. Council members will need legal representation if the mentioned comments are continued to be made at the table, not just for her but for everyone, as it is inappropriate. She told Council members never to do this again.
Mayor Csordas said he was proud of Council and appreciated their time.
Voice Vote on CM-04-05-216 CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY
There being no further business to come before Council, Mayor Csordas adjourned the meeting at 7:22 p.m.
Lou Csordas, Mayor Maryanne Cornelius, City Clerk
Transcribed by Steve King
Date approved: June 21, 2004