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Councilmania

On the agenda for May 1

The Council introduced bill 11-0689, the Ordinance of Estimates for Fiscal 2012, aka the city budget. The Annual Property Tax bill, numbered 11-0690, is there as well. Both are referred to the Committee of the Whole, which can make cuts but not additions. The $1.9 billion budget—which is still potentially in the red by about $54 million—cuts 10 percent from administrative budgets and imposes medical insurance cuts on city pensioners. It proposes a nonprofit partnership to keep politically important recreation centers open, and offers up to 5,000 summer youth jobs. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake also says she is stepping up police recruiting. The State’s Attorney’s Office, which endured cuts in recent years, is proposed for a $4 million funding increase when compared to FY 2011’s summary budget. The proposed property tax rate is the same. Hearings on the budget begin on May 11 at 3:30 p.m. at City Hall.

11-0691 Urban Renewal – Broadway East – Amendment, and 11-0691 Urban Renewal – Middle East – Amendment Both would “clarify certain land uses” in the east side districts.

The Read: A lot of apparently prohibitive language is stricken from the plan, replaced by what appears to be more permissive language under the zoning code’s Title 13, which governs planned unit developments. For example, the existing plan says noncomplying uses discontinued for 12 months cannot be restarted, whereas the amendment would eliminate this provision. The bill, sponsored by Council members Warren Branch (D-13th District), Carl Stokes (D-12th District), and William “Pete” Welch (D-9th District, miles away) is worth a read for folks living in the affected neighborhoods.

11-0693 Living Wages – Limited Exemption from Overtime Requirements for Workers Receiving Commissions This mirrors a federal rule that allows owners to not pay time-and-a-half to workers who receive commissions on sales.

The Read: This comes into play only if the employees’ regular pay is 50 percent above the living wage, and they earn more than half their compensation from commissions.

11-0694 November 2 – Do It Now! Day – In Honor of the Life and Times of William Donald Schaefer – November 2, 1921-April 18, 2011 Declares an “annual city-wide day of service and reflection” on former Mayor Schaefer’s birthday.

The Read: “He was beloved by all,” Councilmember Robert Curran (D-3rd District) said.

11-0695 Surcharge on Trespass Towing Would impose a $30 surcharge on each car towed from a private parking lot by a contracted towing company.

The Read: Curran is the Council’s resident towing expert. He says he wants it made clear that this surcharge would not apply to cars towed from city streets or lots, only private parking lots, one of which he says used a low parking fee to set up drivers of quick, expensive tow jobs. The $30 fee will not be passed through to folks who get towed, Curran says, because he will make sure those maximum towing fees are amended to prevent it. He hopes to raise between $400,000 and $600,000 for the city by squeezing certain tow companies this way, and he says he wants to apply the money to the city’s animal control efforts, which are scheduled for steep cuts under the newly proposed budget. Both of the workers who currently remove dead animals from city streets are facing elimination of their jobs, Curran says, while the euthanasia rate for animals brought to the city animal shelter, which was reduced from over 90 percent to under 40 percent, could shoot back up.

The next City Council meeting is May 16.

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