Your Money At Work in Brooklyn Park
From the Twilight Zone known as Brooklyn Park via the Sun Post;
Someday there will be a fire truck putting out a fire in a home in a tiny country in Africa that says, “Donated by the City of Brooklyn Park, MN, USA.”
Oh wow! Doesn’t that sound nice!!!
Brooklyn Park City Council members approved a resolution to authorize money from a city donations fund to help pay for a trip to Liberia that three city staff members and several members of the Fire Department will take to Liberia later this year, but it was not a unanimous decision. The matter was up for vote at the Jan. 30 City Council meeting.
In November, Fire Chief Ken Prillaman described a mission to Liberia he’d like to take with a team of fire and emergency medical professionals. The country has almost no infrastructure for fighting fires and is in dire need of equipment, training and supplies. In the last two decades, Brooklyn Park and Brooklyn Center have become home to the largest population of Liberians living outside that country. Many have strong ties to their homeland. Brooklyn Park has hosted delegations of high-level government officials in recent years.
Chief Prillaman has set up a nonprofit organization to assist other countries with firefighting efforts and has raised money for the upcoming trip, planned for March 2012. The request of the council was to help pay the cost for the city employees, including Mayor Jeffrey Lunde, city manager Jamie Verbrugge, and police community liaison, Robin Martinson. The amount requested to was $3,300 total for the three city members of the delegation. They are also paying part of the cost themselves.
Councilmember Dean Heng said he had received a lot of calls from citizens about this trip and asked where the money would come from. City finance director Corey Kampf said the money would come from a donations fund that has been around for a while.
That raised another question about what happens to money that individuals donate to the city – where does it go? Kampf explained that when an individual or group donates or bequeaths money to the city, it goes to a specially designated location, and the city allocates it to the specific department budget for which the donor intended. In the case of this fund the city had on hand, the donations were not targeted for a specific purpose.
I wonder how many people who donated money thought it would be sent to Liberia! And now taxpayers are paying for part of a trip for the mayor and two government bureaucrats to go there??
Other council members said they also had some trepidation about using city funds for such a trip, but after listening to Prillaman’s and Verbrugge’s description of the benefits this kind of cross-cultural, face-to-face interaction could bring to both the country of Liberia and the city, they felt they could support the resolution. Heng cast the only dissenting vote.
Ahhh….isn’t that nice! We now have cross-cultural fire extinguishing!
And, of course, they have to upgrade city hall!
City Hall upgrades
Council members approved a staff request for a 2012 remodel of the front reception customer service and licensing-assessing area in City Hall. Presented by Jon Thiel, director of operations and maintenance, the plan includes addressing the front desk reception area for deficiencies in space relating to technology, ergonomics, security and accessibility. It also includes updating the council chambers with the latest in audio-visual technology and expanding the Heritage Conference Room. Other areas might be expanded and moved.
Projected costs for the current remodel are approximately $580,000, with $300,000 going for the City Hall construction and $280,000 for council chambers audio-visual replacement. The money will come from the 2012-2016 capital improvement plan and municipal buildings and additions budget and the information technology budget, respectively.
The city is looking at a much larger renovation of City Hall in 2017 when the building turns 25 years old.
$280,000 for an audio-visual replacement?? Nice job by the sun post of scrutinizing that! And will they demand a new building in 2017? It’s funny houses stand for 100 years but government buildings always need to be replaced every 25 years or so!