Columbia City Council and staff discuss issues at annual retreat

Saturday, June 6, 2009 | 7:58 p.m. CDT; updated 2:29 p.m. CDT, Sunday, June 7, 2009

LAKE OF THE OZARKS — Items discussed at the Columbia City Council retreat at the Lodge of the Four Seasons:

·    Broadcasting pre-council meetings on the City Channel after the new City Hall is built.

·    Hiring research interns from MU to help with specific policies.

·    Dealing with problems with the city’s tracking system. The system archives and communicates directives and requests from the City Council to the city staff. The council wants to find a more efficient way to communicate with the city staff.

·    Hiring a “sustainability manager,” who would be paid between $46,000 and $67,000. The manager would head an “office of sustainability” and an internal sustainability work group as well as a community-wide committee.

·    Implementing demand-side energy management through the Water and Light Department. That is, investing money to reduce electricity consumption rather than investing to create more electricity supply.

·    Examining a study of Columbia’s demographic data by the University of Missouri's Community Policy Analysis Center. The baseline will serve as a model through which the city can run specific scenarios and estimate the impact on other areas of the city.

·    Passing a possible ordinance creating a five-year moratorium on rezoning land for which a land-disturbance permit has been issued.

·    Adding possible amendments to the tree-disturbance ordinance so that conservation areas must fall within the city limits.

·    Cutting areas of the budget and discussing upcoming budget issues. Joint communications was one area mentioned for increased funding.

·    Setting a pay range for future city employees. The council decided on a pay range 60 to 70 percent above market level. The possibility of a pay-for-performance raise system was also discussed.

·    Staffing areas where the city should begin looking for replacements immediately and finding employees to fill positions that are expected to be vacated due to retirement.

·    Placing greater emphasis on growing existing businesses, making sure business imports wealth rather than exports it and hiring an ombudsman to assist businesses and create more shovel-ready sites.

·    Repairing sidewalks around town.

·    Setting trail priorities and putting more emphasis on trails oriented toward transportation rather than recreation. The council also worked on the ballot language for the issue of renewal of the one-eighth cent sales tax that comes up in November 2010.

·    Looking at an update on City Hall construction and the future design of Eighth Street as well as looking at what other downtown areas may eventually look like.

Other issues:

·    Tentative numbers prepared by the Public Works Department for a future slope ordinance were given approval by the City Council. Anything on a slope above 25 percent cannot be disturbed; 20-25 percent can only have 20 percent of the land disturbed; 15-20 percent can have 40 percent of the land disturbed; and slopes below 15 percent will have no disturbance restrictions.

·    Police Chief Ken Burton gave a presentation on reorganizing the Police Department administration and implementing new police programs and strategies. The department will increase traffic-unit enforcement, create a civilian review board, set priorities so officers respond to the most critical incidents first and look into letting citizens use radar guns to collect speeding data on neighborhood streets.

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