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City Commission Meeting: Cascades trails renamed, PBA agreement reached

Watch the video for the PBA agreement in the body of this story.
Updated: Jun. 2, 2021 at 7:09 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - The Tallahassee City Commission met Wednesday to discuss a number of issues, including renaming of a trail at Cascades Park and reach a deal with the PBA.

Request to name the walking trails within Cascades Park in honor of Dr. Nancy Van Vessem

The first agenda item of the City Commission approved was the renaming of Cacades Parks Trails in Dr. Nancy Van Vessem’s name. Dr. Van Vessem was killed back in 2018 during the Hot Yoga Shooting, and this, as stated by friends and colleagues, is just another way to honor her legacy.

Friends closest to her say Dr. Van Vessem would have been humbled. They say she shied away from having her name in the spotlight but was beyond passionate about keeping her adult patients healthy. They believe this is only fitting.

Cascades Park was something Dr. Van Vessem was supportive of since day one. As a wellness and public advocate, her focus was making sure this community understood the importance of eating right and physical activity. Her close colleagues, like Senior Associate Dean of Medical Education at FSU Alma Littles, says she got goosebumps when they heard of this renaming.

Tom Glennon with Capital Health Plan says he is very proud that this will help keep her memory alive.

“This is that community recognition,” shares the Senior VP of Marketing Administration at CHP, “That I think is very fitting.”

“What I would hope is that people walking on the trails,” expresses Littles, “would see her name and would the question would come up if they didn’t already know ‘Who is Dr. Nancy Van Vessem’, and be able to share with them.”

Capital Health Plan has offered to pay for all of the costs associated with making these changes. Right now there is no timetable as to when we will be seeing these changes at Cascades.

This passed unanimously by the City Commission.

Diane Williams Cox made a request, after the approval, to name the road between Riley House and Cascades in Althemese Barnes name. She asked to bring back an agenda item for that to be discussed. The motion was granted.

Ratification of the Officers and Investigators collective bargaining agreement with the Big Bend Chapter of the Police Benevolent Association (PBA)

The PBA agreement was unanimously approved. What it entails is an across-the-board two-percent pay increase in years two and three of a three-year agreement.

There will be no fiscal increase for 2021.

It also decreases pension contribution to less than 11% (right now it varies across the board with a pension contribution as high as 13.69%). There are also 240 hours of parental leave for every year, which will apply to those who have children. Those who had children anywhere between October of 2020 to today, will be credited those hours.

The President of the PBA says it took a long road to get here, but the answer is compromise. The hope is that this will in turn improve recruiting and retention.

“It brings stability to the police department,” shares President of the PBA, Richard Murphy, “and officers are already here it helps with retention and help in recruiting. People like to know how much they are going to make throughout their career and this is going to help with that.”

After 10 months of not working under any contract, City Manager Reese Goad said it was important to get this done at Wednesday night’s commission meeting.

Clean Energy Plan Update

The update adds on a resolution to have 100% clean renewable energy no later than 2050. This means all City facilities, StarMetro, and City light-duty vehicles will be 100% electric or on renewable energy no later than 2035.

By the end of this year, the City hopes to reconvene committees, have deeper public engagement, and finish their analytics. By June of 2022, they hope to refine recommendations, finalize a CEP, and prepare for implementation.

Authorize Acceptance of Gas Training Yard Grant and Approve Supplemental Funding

The third item of the evening is the approval of a Gas Training Yard grant. It allows for an apprenticeship program. This program allows individuals who have no gas utility experience to be trained in the maintenance and operations of gas distribution systems.

Mayor Dailey notes that Tallahassee has the largest solar plant at an airport in the world. We are also the 2nd largest solar producer per capita in US. It was all done under the leadership of Rob McGarrah with Gas and Electric.

Commissioner Matlow asked what the process is to replace McGarrah as he is retiring next week. City Manager Reese Goad says they have already advertised the position, interviews have already begun. Goad says they are hoping to fill the position before Hurricane Season really gets underway.

This grant of 20,000 dollars was approved unanimously.

Single-use Plastics Policy

The fourth item, which was approved unanimously, adopts a single-use Plastics Policy that restricts the distribution and use of single-use plastics for food and beverage service on City property and at City events. In order to make that happen, costs would be about $50,000 a year.

Revisions to City Commission Policy 240, Industrial Revenue Bond Issuance Policy

This was approved unanimously. City Commission Policy 240, Industrial Revenue Bond Issuance, was originally adopted on June 12, 1984. The City Treasurer-Clerk’s Office reviewed the Policy and has made some minor updates with input and assistance from Housing and Community Resilience. In addition, the Policy does need to have various ministerial revisions made in order to be in compliance with the latest format for City Commission policies. As part of this updated format, the Policy contains a sunset provision to ensure the Policy is reviewed again in five years.

Audit of the City’s Ethical Culture

This item needed no action. It solely served to inform the City Commission of the results of the recent performance audit of the City’s Ethical Culture. The audit suggestions w

An audit was conducted and this was what was found to be areas of improvement, or possible changes to be made.

Opportunities to improve and strengthen the City’s ethical culture identified include:

  • establishing Anti-Fraud and Whistleblower policies
  • continuing communication of management’s expectations for employees to conduct themselves in an ethical manner
  • codifying management’s directions regarding critical policy review and annual ethics training
  • implementing review procedures for outside employment forms
  • documenting reasons conflict of interest forms are not signed by all procurement evaluation committee members
  • revising the Procurement Manual to include vendor ethical standards

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