Nice meeting you may I use your credit card

On May 28th, I indicated the “City and County (Supervisors) can’t seem to work together on anything of significance”.

On July 6th, the City of Cedar Rapids (5 of 9 Councilors) and the Supervisors (5 of 5) came together at City Hall North to discuss what appeared to be a variety of topics; however, the underlying theme seemed to be:  you (the Supervisors) have a line of credit you are not using, more than half the population of the County lives in Cedar Rapids – you (the Supervisors) should tap your line of credit to help the City on several projects.

Councilor Shields asked if the supervisors could support the City’s animal control project, the multi-generational/recreation center, and/or the amphitheater.  He sounded frustrated.  He seemed to be searching for some level of commitment from the Supervisors, but he never mentioned a number or a percentage.  Supervisor Houser correctly pointed out to the councilors that the County could not throw money at City projects without taking an ownership interest.  I didn’t hear the supervisors say NO to helping or YES to helping.  It was more of a MAYBE, but we want details.

I’m unsure what the councilors expected.  Did they think the Supervisors were going to show up, say “Here’s $10M – let us know what you’re going to spend it on?”  Why didn’t the councilors have something specific in mind before the meeting started?  Do they want $10M?  Or $1M?  Or 5% of the cost of a project?  Or 10%?  Or 50%?  What do they want?  And I’m not saying the Supervisors should give them anything.

If you’re going to take the time to have a joint official meeting with the public watching and minutes being taken, and this is the first time you’ve met in 2010 and you are the City and you want something from County, why wouldn’t you be prepared to ask for something specific?  Better yet, tell the Supervisors before the meeting what you are going to ask for so they can do their homework and be ready to make a decision when the meeting convenes.

I’ve heard from a councilor or two that the supervisors are not interested in helping the City – that they’ve said NO.  Maybe they have said NO in private, but anyone can say anything in private.  What matters the most when legislative bodies meet is who voted for what and why.  That means decisions were made.  That means they’re on the record standing for or against something.  That didn’t happen on Tuesday.  It was “nice”, but I was expecting something more than nice.

Watching Tuesday’s meeting makes me wonder … again.  Can the City and County work together on anything of significance?  If YES, when?

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