Council rejects climate change agreement
Mayor says it’s too political; not sold on the science
Updated as of Wednesday, April 26, 2017 6:16 AM
A showing of about two dozen local supporters of the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement at Prescott city council’s meeting on Tuesday, April 25, didn’t stop the council from rejecting the resolution via a failed motion.
Several members of the council, including Mayor Harry Oberg, spoke out against accepting the resolution.
For Oberg, the resolution was a political statement he’d rather avoid taking. He also voiced his position as someone who does not entirely buy into the theory that climate change is being severely affected by human actions.
“I, for one, am one that still feels that this is still open to considerably more science,” Oberg said.
Council member Billie Orr spoke out as well, saying she believes approving this resolution is unnecessary.
“I consider myself a good steward of the environment … However, I do not feel like we need to make any additional steps,” Orr said. “Our citizens approved a general plan in 2015 that addresses many of the issues.”
She also reminded the audience that Prescott has already been ranked number one for cleanest metropolitan areas in the country for particle pollution by the American Lung Association, and number 13 for happiest and healthiest cities in America, based on Gallup-Healthways’ recently released Community Well-Being Index.
“I really don’t see any advantage to the city of Prescott,” Orr said.
For council member Steve Sischka, his problem with the resolution primarily came down to the financial burden it may incur on the city.
“The shame for me is that it’s become politicized,” Sischka said. “Is some of the stuff (in the resolution) right to do? Absolutely. But the truth of the matter is that it all costs money.”
“I think it’s my responsibility as a citizen to do this stuff, but I don’t think it’s the responsibility of the city,” he said.
Jean Wilcox was the sole member of the council to openly advocate for the agreement.
“I think we have to look at our community,” Wilcox said. “What can we do to make a commitment for future generations? It’s all right here (in the resolution). I don’t think it’s superfluous or redundant. It’s a commitment. It’s a statement. We belong to a country, and we have over 1,000 cities that have signed onto this agreement. It seems reasonable to me. It’s nothing beyond our capacity.”
Several members of the public then addressed the council, one of whom provided a five-minute presentation addressing many of the council’s objections to the resolution.
Mayor Harry Oberg then asked the council if there was a motion to approve the resolution.
Wilcox made the motion.
Oberg then asked if there was a second. With no response, he asked the question again.
As he asked the council, the crowd in support of the resolution held up several little signs that said “2nd.”
The silence from the council persisted, so Oberg declared the motion failed due to a lack of a second.
Other board actions:
The second of three hearings concerning this year’s allocation of Community Development Block Grant monies took place during the council’s regular meeting.
This year’s annual action plan consists of an allocation from the Department of Housing and Urban Development of $233,755 and $97,774 carryover from prior year funding. The HUD amount, however, is subject to change upon receipt of the final funding amount, usually received in early September each year.
Seventeen applications for the grant money have been received.
“With the carryovers this year, we are able to fulfill most or all of the requests,” said Jerry Jones, Chairman of Citizen Advisory Committee, which is in charge of overlooking the CDBG process.
A 30-day public comment period for the draft of this year’s CDBG action plan is currently underway. When it wraps up, the city council will consider adopting a resolution to approve the plan at its regular meeting on Tuesday, May 9. The completed plan must be submitted to HUD by May 15.
The council also approved the final language for the Alternative Expenditure Limit “Home Rule” ballot proposition set to go in front of the voters in late August.
The Home Rule option enables the citizens of Prescott, rather than the state, to set expenditure levels of the city through public hearings and council action each year for the next four years. Prescott’s voters have continuously approved the Alternative Expenditure Limit at election since 1989.
The council mainly addressed the significance of this proposition.
“It’s pretty essential that we have local control and not have to go with a legislative budget,” Orr said.
“I wholeheartedly support the home rule situation over that of having state rule over the city,” Lamerson said.