Board Meeting Review: October 13, 2020
Last night we had a much different board meeting. While not the school yard fight of previous meetings, interesting nonetheless. It was under 30 minutes long, with next to no discussion on any topic. It felt rehearsed. It felt like the board went out of their way to try to prove the resignation of Bryan Younge was all that was needed to restore calm to the village. They may have a calmer meeting; but it doesn't mean we have answers to any of our questions and concerns over the management of our village.
Phil opened the meeting with a list of answers to questions, but as usual, he's a master of partial information. He said he wanted to "clear up rumors and get truths out there." Let's see how that works (as usual, my notes in his comments are in green):
Phil states that the SWOT analysis was first held in Oct 2019; then the second meeting was May 2019 (I rewound the recording three times to make sure I heard this right). There are no recordings or minutes taken at these meetings -- but one might be curious why our board doesn't think those meetings should be recorded under the open meetings act. This law states that all meetings of a public body must keep minutes and a verbatim recording. This is a problem -- it appears our board held a meeting outside the rules of the OMA.
From these two SWOT meetings, the board decided that communication and customer service must be improved. In this, I agree -- in fact, I've mentioned this to the board more than once. But if this was discussed at two SWOT meetings (which we can't confirm), why is it not in the budget? You'd think this would be a budgeted expense since it was discussed twice and made a priority.
Phil says that "resident input is key" because they must "debunk false accusations and other wrong information out there." Interesting -- if it's wrong, why not reach out and talk to the people you think are spreading this misinformation? I know Phil has taken things I've said to task; but yet will not return my phone calls or emails when I agreed to listen to his information. One would think that would be a great first step.
Phil goes on to mention three instances that communication has been a struggle: Hampshire Lane; the Splash Pad; and recently the brush pick-up. Looking at the recent issue with brush pick-up, we have a village Facebook page -- it would have taken 30 seconds to put up a post explaining that our village chipper broke and we were renting a replacement. This wasn't done -- one must ask why we need a marketing company to tell us to share information -- that's always the first step in good communication, right?
Great News: Grading for the travel center is beginning next week through the winter with a target open date of the end of next summer. Phil says, "This is great news for us taxwise." Now, I have to wonder about that -- we have given the travel center a lot of concessions including impact fee waiver (until the point when we run water and sewer to the intersection) and sales and property tax abatements. So -- when Phil says that this will be good for us tax-wise --- when will the village actually see that tax revenue? What's the projected revenue expected in the first 6 months (which would be the second 6 months of the 2021-22 fiscal year)?
Finally, the resurfacing of the major streets is complete. There is still some work to be done to bring the edges of the property to the street level -- dirt and seeding. So -- I've not been out on my bike lately -- how's the new and improved Broadway? I get that we can only resurface a few roads a year -- but really? Broadway is not so slowly becoming a gravel road -- and it's still not resurfaced? I'm pretty sure Phil promised a resident at the July meeting in Turnberry that Broadway was on the list of resurfacing this year.
Two people spoke out, including myself. I continue to ask questions looking for real answers. Phil is so concerned what is said in social media, but he doesn't actually answer questions. So, I continue to ask.
Consent Agenda was passed.
There were three Ordinances for vote. The first two were about a piece of public works equipment that was declared excess and then sold. This had to be done in two separate pieces because you can't sell public property until it's approved for disposal. But here's thing. Trustee Odom noticed that because these two items were on the same agenda, there's likely something more going one. She tried to ask the question before the vote, but was delicately cut off when Phil announced the ordinance and immediately called for a vote. That's not how Robert's Rules works. Phil also violated the procedure by calling Trustee Odom out on her nay vote for the intergovernmental sale of the item -- and if you listen to it, he acts as if she doesn't know what she's doing.
But during Trustee Comments, we learn exactly how keen Ms. Odom is. She asked how many bids we got for the jetter, Phil took umbrage with the word 'bids' -- but her point was made. It appears that this equipment never went out for public auction or public offer. Could we have gotten more than $4,500 for it? Who knows. What is absolutely for sure is that this item was offered for sale prior to being listed and approved for disposal. My guess is that this item was never posted on the state site for sale (how could it, it was only approved for disposal 2 minutes prior to being sold to another government). I've said this many times, this could be entirely on the up and up; but because of the sheer volume of games this administration has played to date -- how can we be sure?
The last ordinance was regarding an emotional support animal that Phil reveals is for a minor in the village. While I fully support the sensitive nature of this AND am thrilled that the board voted to approve, I think the board missed a real opportunity here. Without disclosing details, the board had the opportunity to use this as a time to remind the residents that the village cares about our mental health and wishes to support it in reasonable ways. To that end, if the board had announced, "should you and your qualified therapist believe that you need support from an animal outside of the ones already approved for the village, there's a process for approval and here it is" would have gone a lot further to promoting the village than an orchestrated calm meeting.
Finally, Trustee Comments:
We heard a report from Brian Augustine about events and leagues at RedTail. This is great news, as I pointed out that one of the main areas of decline at the golf course are memberships over the past few years. I know the RedTail team is doing great work -- I've never questioned that. I've questioned Phil's decisions to get involved and how he prioritizes spending RedTail money -- especially in the lean years.
We also heard about Doug's trip to the Turnberry driving range with his son. He extols the Top Golf experience and mentioned the driving range lights. What he doesn't mention is that there's no permit or zoning that allows those lights. He failed to mention that the owner of Turnberry has been asked to not turn them on because of neighbor complaints. He forgot to mention that the lights are against village ordinance and the league hours for fall and winter leagues had to be changed to daytime because the lights can not be used.
I feel very sorry for the owner of Turnberry. He's trying hard to make a golf course in a town with four profitable and that's not easy. While the covenants on the land were written that the Country Club was to maintain the level of service of a private golf course (which seemingly would preclude the Top Golf Experience), he's trying to add services to bring people to his golf course. While I can argue that not pulling a permit for the driving range until the day it was completed is wrong and not getting it in writing that he can use the lights was likely an expensive mistake, I want him to succeed. I want all four of our golf courses in town to thrive. But Turnberry and RedTail are inside of neighborhoods. We have to respect that and we should have the expectation that the golf course would respect the neighbors.