When I meet with friends they often ask, “What’s up with this or that thing the council’s looking at?” Sometimes I know the answer. Often I’m just as much at sea as anyone in town.
The consent agenda at Jordan City Council meetings is one of those things about which I’m often at sea. Fortunately (or unfortunately, as the case may be) I’m usually not alone. The consent agenda — especially the bills agenda section — is a sea the City Council seldom wades into. So today when a friend asked me about an item that appeared in the consent agenda two weeks ago, I really didn’t know what to say.
My friend said he thought I was keeping track of all that stuff. So I reminded him that I’m a former City Council Member, and I only look at some of the council’s business.
Our conversation rolled around two main points.
The first point was, why is the city (us taxpayers) paying a consultant to do a study about an interchange that relates to two state highways and a county road. To wit from the list of bills:
UnPaid KIMLEY-HORN AND ASSOCIATE $114,902.95 169-282-9 INTERCHANGE
My friend posited that if the roads don’t belong to Jordan, the city should not be paying for studies and whatnot — an entirely reasonable thing to say.
In my opinion, there are several reasons why Jordan taxpayers are being saddled with the expense for the study. First, City Hall will justify the expense by saying the city will be reimbursed when the interchange is built, and we need to show MnDOT that we’re serious about wanting the interchange — put our money where our mouth is, as it were.
Next (again, in my opinion) City Hall needs to cover a past action done without fully considering all information. In their rush to just do something, the council and staff have put together a proposal that will isolate businesses west of Highway 169. I don’t think retail businesses in the area are going to be especially thrilled with the results of the proposed interchange either.
Just take a look at what happened in Belle Plaine.
The second point of discussion was, why doesn’t the council question any of the expenses on the list of bills, and maybe split out some of the bigger ones for discussion? That would serve to inform the supposed hundreds of people who watch and listen to the live feed.
In my opinion there are a few reasons why the council doesn’t challenge anything on the list of bills. For one thing, the council has presumably approved in advance all of the expenses. I also think both council and staff want to minimize scrutiny of how our tax dollars are being spent. Then there’s the element of laziness. Much easier to just zip through the meeting, and go home to watch Monday Night Football. Finally, in my opinion, the council for the most part is unwilling to show any signs of dissent or disagreement with staff.
So here you have:
UnPaid JORDAN CENTER $10,299.47 TIF PAYMENT
UnPaid SAND COMPANIES, INC. $17,850.65 TIF PAYMENT
UnPaid OAK TERRACE SENIOR HOUSIN $51,526.39 1ST HALF — 2019
Plus that $114,902.95 to Kimley-Horn and Associates, all unchallenged (in public, at least), and unexplained. (Individual council members may — and MAY is the operative word — have consulted with staff before the meeting. But remember, the council doesn’t typically see the agenda and supporting documents until late Friday afternoon.)
The Quote: “The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out... without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane, intolerable.”
H. L. Mencken