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Archive for May 29th, 2008|Daily archive page

It’s 10:15 p.m., do you know where your City Council is?

In Brian Fagan, Chuck Wieneke, City Hall, Mayor Kay Halloran on May 29, 2008 at 3:41 pm

They have finally decided to go home.

Four hours and 15 minutes after the 6 p.m. start of the Wednesday evening council meeting, the city’s nine council members called it a night.

By then, most anyone in the audience had cleared out. The few from the local media were long gone. And several top city staffers, forced to stay until the end, headed home. They’re back at it now, running the city all over again.

Near the end of the night, Mayor Kay Halloran had left her chair for a short break, and was doing knee bends to loosen up the legs before returning to her seat.

Near 10 p.m., the topic had turned to Minneapolis developer Sherman Associates’ plan to spend $7.7 million to buy and renovate The Roosevelt, the former hotel turned apartment complex.

After renovation, about 85 percent of the 97 apartment units in the 12-story building will be classified as affordable, and much of the federal and state financial help for the project is coming because of the affordable housing component of the renovation.

As part of the financing, the city is being asked to make a $775,000 loan to Sherman Associates, the details of which are still being worked out.

At one point, council member Chuck Wieneke was enthusiastically voicing support for the loan, noting that the council had given ample local financial incentives to the WaterTower Place condominiums downtown and now the  Bottleworks condominium project next door in what is the former Osada building, which had been affordable housing.

The council has steered money to the “upper end” in downtown housing, it’s time it did the same for affordable housing, Wieneke said.

Council member Brian Fagan, sounding a bit weary, said Wieneke’s comments sounded like a seconding of a motion to support the loan, and the matter went to successful vote.

The loan details will come back to the council in a couple weeks for a final vote on the matter.

It had been a long night, which had featured two, hour-plus-long public hearings and council debates on land-use changes, one for the proposed Tudor Rose condominium project on the west side and one for a proposed Walgreens drug store on the east side. Both projects were given the go ahead to proceed to zoning changes.

Few bodies were around, though, to hear about The Roosevelt or the four or five council items that followed.

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Prosser doesn’t want to spend for an assistant city manager; instead he gets an assistant to the city manager

In City Hall on May 29, 2008 at 2:19 pm

Sandi Fowler, the city’s neighborhood liaison, has been promoted to the position of assistant to the city manager, a move that puts her title in line with all the duties she has been performing.

Early after the arrival of City Manager Jim Prosser in August 2006, Fowler was moved from the Community Development Department into the city manager’s office. It was a signal that Prosser cared about neighborhoods.

In her new position, she will earn $66,726 a year. Her old salary was $60,548.

Fowler says she will continue to be responsible for activities related to the neighborhoods. But she now also will coordinate customer service and strategic planning for the city.

“Producing results regarding interdepartmental effectiveness and the city’s responsiveness to citizens are expected to be high priorities for my work,” Fowler says.

A committee advising the City Council on City Hall reorganization recommended a year ago that the city consider hiring an assistant city manager to help Prosser. However, Prosser said then he did not want to hire an assistant city manager at a time when the city was cutting postions.

The cost of an assistant city manager likely would be double what Fowler will receive as an assistant to the city manager.