Sparks fly at Ypsilanti City Council meeting, $9.9 million more for Water Street
(October 18, 2006) Ypsilanti City Council approved spending $100,000 of general fund money for Water Street consultants. Long time city hall watchers know that the city has said that no general fund money would be spent on Water Street. Listen as the mayor and numerous council members proclaim how this is the first time general fund money was spent on Water Street. That is not true.
In the 2005-2006 budget, general fund money of nearly $200,000 was spent to pay off Biltmore after the city fired the Water Street developer in December 2004. Biltmore could be owed as much as $730,000 which will likely come from the General Fund. (Remember when EMU was claiming that no student money was being spent on the President's House. After a state audit, EMU had in fact spent student money on the house. This has a certain familiar ring.)
Council also approved an SBT tax credit of some $9.9 million. This was in addition to the $10.3 million approved in the Brownfield plan on Oct 3rdh. Current estimates are pegging the total taxpayer bill when Water Street is done at a staggering $70 million. Tempers flared during the meeting when the mayor and council member got into a heated argument of how much money is too much for Water Street.
Council also considered a massive bill to regulate tow trucks. Watch as council members get confused on how much a tow truck weighs and one council members wants to know how heavy is an Escalade or Navigator. This was the same council member who a while back said at a council meeting during deliberations of the on-street parking ordinance, "if the owner can afford a Hummer or Navigator, they can afford to park it in the drive way."
The Police Voice Recorder contract came back up. Back on Sept 5, 2006, the council approved a no-bid contract with DSS only to learn later Council violated the City Charter. Council was set to award the contract to DSS after soliciting bids. City Staff said that DSS was the 'winning bidder' even though DSS was $10,000 more than the lowest bidder and just $4,000 less than the highest bidder. At the last moment, the contract award to DSS was pulled from the agenda and a new resolution invalidating all the bids was approved by Council. Bottom line, the city will have to do another round of bids. Eventually the city will get the vendor they want, DSS, and somehow satisfy the city charter and internal bidding rules.
At the end the outgoing mayor proposed sweeping changes to boards and commissions. Other council members suggested they should wait until the new mayor takes office.
SPECIAL NOTE -- City Council had a hastily called special meeting on October 6 to approve an extension to the Water Street Development Agreement. Unfortunately, YpsiNews did not get word of the special meeting until after it was held and so no one was able to video tape the meeting.
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