Monday night's Council meeting marks the end of one tenure on the City Council and the beginning of another, meaning there's some circumstance to accompany the pomp so often associated with events like the evening's installation ceremony for the newly elected and re-elected council members.
Certainly Monday's event isn't the outcome departing councilman Thomas Stith hoped for; defeated in his run for mayor by Bill Bell, the former pre-school owner and Raleigh conservative think-tank pol returns to private life, denied a Merry Stithmas in favor of a Stith-less council. In his place: newcomer Farad Ali joins re-elected councilfolk Diane Catotti and Eugene Brown and returning mayor Bill Bell.
The installation ceremony kicks off with a welcoming reception (open of course to the general public) at 6pm in the lobby of City Hall, followed at 7pm by the oaths of office and regular Council business.
The highlight item on this week's agenda is the so-called two-thirds bond subject, a reference to the state statue allowing local governments to re-issue new bonds without voter approval when retiring old securities, with the caveat that the face value can be no more than two-thirds the level from the old bonds. Ray Gronberg covered the subject well in a story going into the Thanksgiving holiday, noting in particular that there's some debate on how to allocate the funds from these new bonds.
Catotti, Brown and Mike Woodard have advocated earmarking $1.5 million from the bonds to complete the financing on the American Tobacco Trail bridge and Phase E connection to the Chatham County line -- the cartographic feature, not the band. One quibble with the H-S coverage: the roughly $6.4 million cost quoted in the paper covers not just the bridge, but the bridge and Phase E of the trail.
(A random suggestion: given that construction costs are escalating all over the place but that steel is generally a deeper concern, I'm curious whether our City fathers and mothers have considered building the bridge now with available funds to hedge inflationary pressures there, then finishing Phase E of the trail when the missing funds are identified. Worth noting, of course, that paved trails use asphalt, and asphalt requires oil, and we all know what's happening with oil prices, too.)
Anyway, City administrators have suggested instead allocating $1.5
million to a reserve fund for ADA improvements on other city projects.
The H-S reports that other funds from the two-thirds bonds are aimed at
the postponed Durham Armory projects, among others. (Note: Bill Bussey and Dan Clever from Triangle Rails-to-Trails claim that the article "overstates some perceived competition" between trail and ADA projects; they're calling for folks to turn out Monday night to support both the I-40 and NC-147 pedestrian bridges. More on the latter project on this weekend's BCR.)
Currently, the memo attachments for Monday's meeting are not posted on the online agenda; more to follow when those, which contain the latest from city staff, are posted.
Also of note: according to Eddie Davis, the Durham-based educator, candidate for state schools superintendent, and advocate for the Royal Ice Cream historic marker, the City Council as well as the county commissioners are scheduled on Monday to vote their support for the historic monument in advance of a forthcoming hearing before the state board of appeal. Durham's Inter-Neighborhood Council also voted its support for the marker in its recent meeting.