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More on the City Council election: Jeff Zink’s Q&A

Citizen Jeff Zink (jeff.zink@comcast.net) polled the City Council candidates on several topics.  He got thoughtful answers from five of the candidates (Garland, McBride, Mosby, Tobler, and Turner) and a short reply from a sixth (Miller).   He distributed the results this afternoon via e-mail.  I received a forwarded copy of his message, which said “Please feel free to forward this e-mail to others in Oak Ridge,” and I am posting the answers here (click here to find them on a separate page) to help get them into the hands of voters.

For me as a Council member who is not up for re-election, this type of election-time discussion of the issues is worthwhile because it causes me to think about topics that are important but have not been on the front burner recently — and the candidates often bring fresh perspectives to the issues.

ADDED a few hours later: Skimming the Qs and As, I found myself wanting to add comments on a few items:

Centennial Golf Course – The golf course financial results are available to everybody (not just public officials, as Eric Tobler’s response implies), embedded in the city budgets and financial reports, which are published and are actually on the city website (click for budgets and financial reports).  According to the draft budget for FY 2010 (and as Dave Mosby’s response notes), the golf course is turning a profit this fiscal year on operations (revenues of $1,293,000 versus $1,201,000 in operating costs), but debt service is almost $539,000, so taxpayers are still subsidizing the course at an annual rate of about $447,000.  As Tobler’s response implies, golf courses generally don’t pay for themselves. Oak Ridge didn’t expect this course to break even, but hoped to make money from sharing in the gains from selling homes built near the golf course. (That arrangement didn’t work out.) I wish we didn’t own this golf course in the first place, and it would be nice to think that the city could save money by selling it, but I agree with Dave Mosby that we would need to look carefully at any offers — and  sell it only if the deal is truly beneficial financially.

Traffic cameras – Not only should signage be erected to “inform” motorists that they are about to come upon a street camera, but notification signs are required by law. As several of the candidates pointed out, signs are in place at some of the camera locations. However, I’ve been concerned that the signage might not be sufficient — in particular, I believe that when a camera site monitors both red-light compliance and speed, it’s not enough for the sign to mention only the red-light cam. I asked staff to look into sign adequacy at a recent meeting, and I haven’t yet gotten a definitive answer.
Added June 2, 2009: City staff says that the signs are going to be replaced with signs that specify “Red Light and Speed Photo Enforcement” or “Speed Limit Photo Enforcement.”

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3 Comments

  1. Mike says:

    Helpful.

    Thank Ellen.

  2. joe says:

    your co-council members said at a meeting a while back that they wanted to bring people in from outside oak ridge to shop and enjoy themselves here by making changes in the town. well, the red light cams have made so many people mad, that many have said they will never come back here. who cares though, you got there money right. GOD help our town!!!!

  3. joe says:

    good job on finding a perfect place for Mr Patel to put his hotel.( old coal creek armory)

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