The 10 members of the Eau Claire City Council took nearly five hours to complete their legislative session on November 27, with a variety of measures stirring debate, including a few modifications to its $149.7 million budget for 2019.
Budget and Tax Levy
The City's budgeted spending represents a $10.6 million increase over 2018 at $149.7 million. The portion coming from property taxes is $43.5 million, an increase of $300,000, primarily coming from increased values of new construction. The tax levy itself will be $8.03 per thousand, down from $9.26 last year.
Budget amendments passed by the Council included the following:
Other items passed by the Council included:
Carbon Fee Resolution
Calls upon Congress to recognize the scientific evidence of climate change and urges Congress to act by adopting a revenue-neutral fee on certain fossil fuels. Passed 9-1 with Dave Strobel voting no.
Family Members at Public Meetings
Authorizing members of City Council and other City of Eau Claire public bodies to bring non-disruptive children, family members or others to be seated with the member during public meetings. Passed 7-3 with Yes votes from Emily Anderson, Kate Beaton, Emily Berge, Jill Christopherson, Jeremy Gragert and Andrew Werthman; No votes from Dave Strobel, Terry Weld and Michael Xiong.
Keeping of Poultry
Residents will be permitted to keep up to five hens for personal use only. Sets minimum health, sanitation and safety standards for coops and poultry. Prohibits commercial sale of poultry and eggs. Provides that all property owners within 100 feet of the applicant’s property will be provided notice of the applicant’s intent to keep poultry. Owners of abutting property may object to the issuance of a license; City Council would then determine whether or
not to grant the license. Passed 8-2 vote with Strobel and Weld voting No.
Penalties for Possession of Marijuana
Citing the recent advisory referendum where a majority of Eau Claire County residents favored marijuana legalization, Andrew Werthmann proposed to reduce the range of penalties for possession of marijuana from $100-$500 to $1. Additionally, the amendments would create a new class of forfeitures applicable only to possession of marijuana at $1 plus all applicable court costs which with mandatory state costs totals an issued citation of $138.76. The current local forfeiture amount is $300, which totals with costs a $515.50 citation.
During debate, Council Member Terry Weld proposed changing the fine to $125, still a reduction from current levels but enough, he argued, to make the total $295 with court costs an incentive for offenders to opt for a $250 diversion program. After a significant amount of discussion, the amendment failed on a 5-5 vote, with Yes votes for the higher fine from Emily Berge, Jill Christopherson, Dave Strobel, Terry Weld and Michael Xiong. No vote for a lower fine were Emily Anderson, Kate Beaton, Catherine Emmanuelle, Jeremy Gragert, and Andrew Werthmann.
Without the amendment, final passage of the measure as proposed was 8-2, with only Strobel and Weld voting No.
Correction: The November 26 Business Advocate incorrectly listed the total city budget as $76.6 million, which was only the amount of the General Fund Budget. The total City budget will all entities is $146.7 million.
Monday Agenda Packet (7 p.m. Public Hearing)
Tuesday Agenda Packet (4 p.m. Legislative session; packet includes budget information and amendments)
Video recording of City Council meetings (Valley Media Works)
New library jobs get into budget (Leader-Telegram)
Speakers offer differing views at budget hearing (Leader-Telegram)
City council approves budget, keeping hens, $1 pot fine (WEAU TV 13 News)
Eau Claire City Council passes chicken-keeping ordinance, lower pot fines, dais changes, and city budget (WQOW News 18)
UPDATE: Eau Claire City Council Votes to Allow Urban Chickens (Volume One)
Posted by Scott Rogers, Governmental Affairs & Workforce Director
Eau Claire Chamber
The Eau Claire Chamber of Commerce has more than 1,200 members.