Outsourcing of public works duties to out-of-town firm may be more costly than hiring additional city staff
Among the 16 topics to be discussed at the next city council meeting includes outsourcing work the Public Works Department could perform to an outside firm, allowing farm animals in agriculture areas of the city, and rezoning of property adjacent to Fairview Park. The next meeting will take place on Tuesday, September 8 at 5:30 PM in the Decatur Civic Center Theater.
OUTSOURCING PUBLIC WORKS TASKS MAY COST CITY MORE MONEY THAN HIRING CITY EMPLOYEE
The city council will be considering whether to pay an out-of-town engineering firm to perform tasks that could be performed by the city. The engineering firm is estimated to perform 1,523 hours of work at a median labor cost of $33 per hour with a total contract cost of $187,670. This cost is more expensive than the total compensation of all but the city’s highest paid employee and the contract calls for fewer hours than a yearly employee would work (assuming 25 vacation days and 12 sick days per year, an employee would work 1,784 hours per year assuming a 40-hour work week). While what the out-of-town firm would be doing is important work for the city, by not filling open engineer and engineer technician positions within the city, Decatur may be hiring an out-of-town firm at what might be a higher cost for services.
REZONING NEAR FAIRVIEW PARK
The city council will consider approving rezoning requests for the properties currently occupied by Fire Station #3 and the former synagogue on W. Eldorado St. from residential to Neighborhood Shopping District. Having a neighborhood shopping area at the properties containing Fire Station #3 and Temple B’nai Abraham could bring additional commercial and/or retail opportunities to the area which are complementary to the residents and activities that take place within Fairview Park. Neighborhood Shopping District is the most restrictive commercial zone and limits the size of buildings allowed, contains large setbacks, and requires buffer yards. Furthermore, given the loss of a grocery store and bank to the north, and the limited number of new houses being built in Decatur, this may be the best future use of the properties. I am supportive of the rezoning requests.
FARM ANIMALS IN AGRICULTURE ZONE
Recently, the city of Decatur added an Agriculture Zoning District. This district was created in large part due to the city’s recent annexation of agricultural properties. The city council will consider allowing farm animals in agriculture zones at its next meeting. I am very supportive of allowing farm animals in the agriculture zone; however, I am concerned that agriculture zoning districts have more restrictive requirements than educational institutions as it pertains to farm animals. For example, agriculture zones require double the amount of acreage per livestock compared to educational institutions and agriculture zones can only have a maximum of 5 sheep or goats per lot regardless of acreage. Greater flexibility in livestock should be allowed in agriculture zones compared to educational institutions. The city currently has and may be annexing properties in which agriculture represents the way individuals earn their livelihood and there should be less regulations not more.
THE CITY COUNCIL WILL VOTE ON TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 8 AT 5:30 PM. PLEASE EXPRESS YOUR VIEWS.
Meetings take place at the Theater located on the second floor of the Decatur Civic Center (1 Gary K. Anderson Place). Free parking is available in the lot immediately south of the entrance. Citizens are encouraged to attend meetings and express their views. Citizens are allotted 3 minutes per person near the beginning of each city council meeting. In addition, citizens can provide comments regarding one regular agenda item per meeting for up to three minutes provided they notify the city in advance (and prior to the start of the meeting). You can request to speak on a particular agenda item at a council meeting by filling out an on-line form at: https://www.decaturil.gov/mayor-and-council/advance-request-to-speak-at-council-meeting/.
AGENDAS FOR CITY COUNCIL MEETINGS ARE AVAILABLE ONLINE
An agenda and information about each agenda item for each city council meeting can be found at: https://www.decaturil.gov/mayor-and-council/council-meetings/
CITIZENS ARE ENCOURAGED TO PROVIDE FEEDBACK TO CITY COUNCIL MEMBERS
If you would like to discuss this or any other issue with a city council member, phone numbers and e-mail addresses for each council member can be found at the following link: https://www.decaturil.gov/mayor-and-council/council/