Tuesday’s meeting left the Amarillo City Council with a big decision to make after taking a step in the right direction.
As we reported, on Tuesday, the City Council was considering a major fee increase for after-school programs at the Warford Activity Center. The proposed fee increases came as a major surprise, as there was apparently little to no public input on the proposal before it was placed on the Council’s agenda. After a motion from Council member Freda Powell, the Council voted to temporarily table the item for two weeks.
Council members Powell and Elaine Hays deserve credit for essentially pushing the line of questioning that led to the Warford Activity Center fee increases being tabled. This was a step in the right direction, but it was not extremely surprising, considering Hays and Powell have typically been the only two members of the body to ever break with the pack.
Council members Eddy Sauer and Howard Smith made few comments about the proposal to raise the fees during the meeting, leaving much of the dialogue to Hays, city manager Jared Miller, and city staff. Thanks to Hays’ line of questioning, we found out more about the proposal to raise the fees and why it was so incredibly flawed. Nonetheless, while she voted to table the item, Mayor Ginger Nelson still seemed supportive of at least the concept of raising fees for general cost recovery. This was disappointing to hear, but not surprising, considering her voting record on the City Council.
Now that the item has been tabled, the City Council must vote to stop the proposed fee increases. Even with two weeks of public input, the move will still come as a surprise to the patrons of the facility. This won’t be a small surprise either; this one will hit citizens right in the pocketbook.
I would like to encourage the City Council to capitalize on its step in the right direction and vote to kill the proposed fee increases. I would think Amarillo’s government would have the decency not to spring fee increases on parents right before back-to-school season. Let’s hope the City Council doesn’t prove me wrong.
-Thomas Warren III, Editor-in-Chief