City-led initiatives

To address the City of Saint John’s projected $10-million operating deficits for the years 2021 and 2022, the City has taken an all-options approach to looking at potential cost saving and revenue generation initiatives. These considerations are listed below and relate to services, fees and facilities.

At each meeting of Common Council, a select group of these proposed initiatives are presented by staff and Council casts a vote for each to either be:

 

1. forwarded back to staff for further consideration (and put into a “hopper” bank of ideas);

 

2. initiative underway for implementation; or

 

3. taken off the table for any further consideration.


All initiatives to address the budget deficit will occur at some point during 2020, and final decisions for each will be made by March of 2020 so that changes can be completed in time for 2021 budget deliberations.

 Revenue  Service Level Changes  Grants and Incentives  City Facilities Workforce Initiatives  Continuous Improvement
Revenue
 Description  Service Impact  Target  Status

 Development & Permit Fee Structure

  • Phase One: A recommended approach for fee adjustment considering three key factors:

1. Consumer price index since the fees were last adjusted;

2. Cost of delivering the service; and

3. Simplified fee structure and addressing fee irregularities for ease of application, fairness, and improved process. 

  • Phase Two: Introduce new fees for activities where costs are currently not recovered (e.g., standard research, re-submissions, heritage permits).
  • Potential perception of not encouraging development in Saint John.
  •  Revenue – approximately $80,000
In the hopper for Council consideration (Presented to Common Council December 2, 2019)

Fire Service Fee Recovery

  • Recognize that current budget for emergency services covers costs of preparedness but not costs for response
  • Some fees for response already introduced. Explore applying “fee for service” model more broadly, including occupancy load approvals, false alarms, nuisance calls, major response, etc (i.e. similar to Ambulance NB)
  • Negativity from those affected
  • Minor administrative costs
  • Revenue – approximately $17,650 in 2020 and $45,600 in 2021. (Dependent on the number of eligible incidents and ability to collect fees)
In the hopper for Council consideration (Presented to Common Council November 18, 2019)

Non-Resident Recreation User Fees

  • Determine the right balance of user versus City taxpayer contributions for use of City-owned recreation facilities.
  • Develop process for charging non-resident user fees for arenas, fields, parks, and tennis courts.
  •  No financial impact on Saint John residents
  • Revenue – $150,000 to $300,000

Pending initial presentation to Common Council

(Arena user fees on hold for 2019-20 thanks to corporate sponsor)

Recreation Subsidies

  • Reduce recreation subsidies in accordance with cost-recovery percentages indicated in new policy to be approved by Council.
  •  Increased costs to all users
  • Revenue –To be determined (will depend on number of users and outcome of other Sustainability Items)
Pending initial presentation to Common Council

Reduction of Lord Beaverbrook Rink Subsidy

  • Board of Trustees of Lord Beaverbrook Rink to review business plan to reduce City’s operating subsidy to this rink
  • Board of Trustees of Lord Beaverbrook Rink to determine impact
  • May include higher rental rates paid by Lord Beaverbrook Rink users
  • Cost reduction of $48,000 (Represents 30% reduction of approximate $160,000 annual subsidy)
Pending initial presentation to Common Council 

Adelaide Street Facility

  • Work with an external organization to rent out portions of the Adelaide Street facility.
  • Fit-up parks and recreation operations into a smaller space, ensuring efficient operations and timely customer service.
  • Change in public access for service
  • Revenue – $30,000 (Dependent on external organization's acceptance of lease terms)
Pending initial presentation to Common Council

Monthly Parking Increase

  • Increase monthly parking fees by 10%
  • Increased costs for parkers
  • Potential to lose monthly parkers to other lots
  • May promote alternate forms of transportation such as Transit
  • Some lease revenue share agreements have restrictions that prices cannot be increased without the third party’s authorization
  • Revenue – $116,000, based on a 10% increase in rates (Dependent on the number of parkers and revenue sharing agreements for leased lots)

Referred to Saint John Parking/Transit Board for consideration (Presented to Council on December 2, 2019)


On-Street Parking Rates

  • Investigate increasing parking meter rate by 25 cents to $2.25/hour
  • Explore varying the parking meter rates depending on location and review the days of the week and/or hours to charge for on-street parking
  • Perception that parking rate increases could deter shopping in the Uptown
  • Revenue - $118,000 based on increase of 25 cents/hour for all parking meters
In the hopper for Council consideration (Presented to Council on December 2, 2019)

Parking Ticket Increase 

  • Increase parking ticket violations by $10, the Saint John Parking Commission issues approximately 20,000 tickets annually.
  •  No service impact
  • Revenue - $123,000 based on increase of parking ticket violations

In the hopper for Council consideration (Presented to Council on December 2, 2019)

Non-Resident Parking Differential Fee

  • Set a differential fee for non-residents purchasing monthly off-street parking spaces.
  • Develop process for implementing fees and collecting revenue.
  • Potential to lose monthly parkers to other lots
  • Some lease revenue share agreements have restrictions that prices cannot be increased without the third party’s authorization
  • Possible additional cost as a result of the migration to Transit plus revenue loss to Parking
  • No financial impact to Saint John citizens
  • Revenue – approximately $620,000 (Dependent on number of non-resident parkers and ability to collect fee differential)
Referred to Saint John Parking/Transit Board for consideration (Presented to Council on December 2, 2019)

Saint John Energy

  • Leverage the growth potential of Saint John Energy.
  • Work with the appropriate stakeholders to establish processes to flow revenue and/or benefits through to the City.
  •  Increased revenue through to the City
  • Revenue – To be determined (Dependent on legislation to flow revenue through to the City and the solution implementation)

Pending legislative changes from the Province 

Fees for Use of Municipal Parks

  • Evaluate feasibility of implementing daily parking rates at Municipal Parks (i.e., Rockwood Park, Dominion Park, Little River Reservoir).
  • Develop process for collecting fees and enforcement.
  • May drive usage to parks owned and maintained by others
  • May increase on-street parking around parks
  •  Revenue – $100,000 (Dependent on the number of parkers and the ability to enforce fee payment)

Pending initial presentation to Common Council
 

Event Levy

  • Investigate opportunities to introduce a levy on events hosted in Saint John (e.g., concerts, trade shows, festivals).
  • Potential impacts to be determined
  • Revenue – To be determined

Pending initial presentation to Common Council
 

TD Station Parking

  • Review opportunity to subdivide building from parking lot.
  • Set competitive parking rates (considering access during events).
  • Collect revenue through Parking Commission on parking spaces.
  • Potential for increased rate for parkers
  • Decrease in revenue for facility with Regional Facilities Commission to cover loss
  • Revenue – $50,000 (Depends on ownership of the facility)
Pending initial presentation to Common Council 
 

Tolls on City Streets

  • Evaluate feasibility of implementing tolls on City streets for non-residents during weekly business hours.
  • Select most feasible option for implementation and establish process for collecting tolls and/or fees and enforcement.
  • Drive traffic to streets not covered by tolls or permit restrictions
  • Potential for loss of some competitive advantage in Saint John
  • Negativity to the concept of tolls
  • Revenue - $250,000 (Dependent on option pursued)
Pending initial presentation to Common Council 
 

Heavy Vehicle Permits on City Streets

  • Evaluate feasibility of implementing heavy vehicle permits to recover wear and tear costs to roadways.
  • Select most feasible option for implementation and establish process for collecting tolls and/or fees and enforcement
  • Drive traffic to streets not covered by tolls or permit restrictions
  • Potential for loss of some competitive advantage in Saint John
  • Revenue - $250,000  (Dependent on option pursued)
Pending initial presentation to Common Council
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Service Level Changes
 Description  Service Impact  Target  Status

Winter Street Maintenance

  • Redesign winter street salting and plowing routes that reduces fleet.
  • Align shift schedules to optimize use of remaining fleet (i.e., balance day and night shifts).
  • Adjust service levels for priority streets to align with fleet availability, while focused on public safety on main roadways.
  • Reduction in peak snow plowing capacity
  • Potential increased timelines to meet service level objectives on all streets in City
  • Reduction – $347,000 (May be higher; must consider summer operations)

In the hopper for Council consideration (Presented to Council on December 4, 2019)


Solid Waste Management Service Redesign

  • Modernize the City’s Solid Waste Service by implementing automated cart pick up service for regular household refuse resulting more efficient routing and use of resources.
  • Introduce bag limits and tagging system to influence resident's habits with regards to waste and diversion from the landfill.
  • Introduce curb-side recycling.
  • Promotes environment stewardship
  • New service to support waste diversion (curbside recycling)
  • New costs to residential customers who do not compost or recycle
  • Reduction – $100,000 (Requires capital investment to implement)
Model will be piloted in identified neighbourhoods (Presented to Council on November 4, 2019)

Transit Service Redesign

  • Redesign transit service to significantly reduce the subsidy provided by the City.
  • Focus design on main routes, accessible transport, and cost-effective service to priority neighourhoods.
  • Evaluate innovate cost-effective approaches to delivering service (i.e., on demand or flex service).
  • Potential to reduce service hours
  • May impact growth in the short term
  • Reduction – up to $2 million
Pending initial presentation to Common Council

Lifeguards

  • Eliminate lifeguards at Fisher Lakes (one of four locations currently guarded).
  • Promote activity at nearby Lily Lake.
  • Reduced availability to guarded swimming locations
  • Reduction – $37,000

Rejected by Common Council for further consideration (Presented to Council November 18, 2019)

Community Centres

  • Evaluate funding model for primary community centres to identify options for reductions.
  • Potential reduction in access to free recreation programming at community centres
  • Currently invest approximately $588,000 in to community centre programming, proposed initiates represents a 12% reduction
  • Reduction – $70,000
Pending initial presentation to Common Council

Summer Playground Program

  • No longer fund the City of Saint John Summer Program.
  • No availability of free City Playground Program; other options for residents through other organizations (some at a cost)
  • No support of other non-City playground programs in the form of training/supplies
  • Reduction – $90,000
In the hopper for Common Council consideration (Presented to Council November 18, 2019)

Passport to Parks Program

  • No longer fund Passport to Parks events at City parks.
  • Reduced availability of free recreational programming/events at City Parks; but there are opportunities offered throughout the year hosted by other organizations
  • Reduction – $35,000
In the hopper for Common Council consideration (Presented to Council November 18, 2019)

Use of Light Response Units to Medical Calls

  • Leverage internal smaller fleet units to respond to medical calls in some stations
  • Further analysis will be done to determine any potential risks
  • Reduction – To be determined (Requires investment in equipment)
Pending initial presentation to Common Council

Freeze Goods and Services Envelope

  • Remove traditional increase to “goods & services” budget for inflation (CPI).
  • Adjust service levels to reflect amount of materials, equipment, and support is available with funding.
  • Reduced service in areas requiring materials and equipment, particularly in roadway and sidewalk maintenance, parks and recreation facility maintenance, stormwater maintenance
  • Reduction – $300,000
Pending initial presentation to Common Council

Leverage Uptown Saint John

  • Work with Uptown Saint John to sustain service levels in the City’s core.
  • Partnership with a key stakeholder to support service delivery
  • Reduction – To be determined (Dependent on partnership with Uptown Saint John)
Pending initial presentation to Common Council

Infrastructure Deficit

  • Delay the target approved by the Finance Committee to reduce the infrastructure deficit by 25% in the short term.
  • Increased risk of infrastructure failure and/or costly renewal
  • Reduction – $1.4 million
Pending initial presentation to Common Council
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Grants and Incentives
 Description  Service Impact  Target  Status

Community Grants & Incentives

  • Suspension of urban development and beautification incentives; and heritage grants for 2021 and 2022.
  • Elimination of Community Arts Program with opportunity for applicants to be considered under Community Grants Program.
  • Elimination of grant funding for one-time events (fireworks, Remembrance Day, Mispec, Horticultural Assoc.) with opportunity to be considered under the Community Grants Program.
  • Increase Community Grant Envelope from $179,800 to $210,000.
  • Minor impact on Council’s priorities of Vibrant, Safe City.
  • Limited funding from the City for some community organization support or events.
  • Potential impact on Public Gardens and Rockwood Park Campground.
  • Reduced capacity to support growth through development
  • Reduction of $398,971 each year.
In the hopper for Council consideration (Presented to Council on December 2, 2019)

Economic Development Agency Funding

  • Reduce economic development agency funding by 10%.
  • Service provider to secure other sources of funding or reduce service offering
  • May impact growth in terms of attracting development and employment opportunities
  • Reduction – $232,950

In the hopper for Council consideration (Presented to Council on December 4, 2019) 

Growth Reserve Fund

  • Eliminate all new funding into the growth reserve fund.
  • Strategically allocate current reserve funding to growth initiatives with the highest probability of success.
  • Work to secure grants from other levels of governments and organizations to support growth initiates.
  •  Reduced investment in growth initiatives
  • Reduction – $350,000 (Growth reserve is projected to be at approximately $628,356 at end of 2020)
In the hopper for Council consideration (Presented to Council on December 2, 2019)
 

Imperial Theatre

  • Eliminate contributions to the Imperial Theatre by removing it from the Regional Facilities Commission.

  • Service provider to secure funding from other sources
  • Ability of the facility to attract entertainment and/or events
  • Availability of the facility for entertainment, events or public use
  • Reduction – $350,000 (Dependent on legislative changes related to the Regional Facilities Commission)
Pending initial presentation to Common Council 
 
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City-Owned Facility Initiatives
 Description  Service Impact  Target  Status

Right-Size Recreation Facilities: Rainbow Park Ice Surface

  • No longer operate seasonal outdoor skating rink service at Rainbow Park
  • Minor service impact with a reduction in free winter recreation service
  • Reduction – $10,000
In the hopper for Common Council consideration (Presented to Council on November 18, 2019)

Right-Size Recreation Facilities: Seaside Park Lawn Bowling

  • No longer assist in the operation of the seasonal lawn bowling facility at Seaside Park
  • Minor impact with potential move to a private model
  • Reduction - $10,000
In the hopper for Common Council consideration (Presented to Council on November 18, 2019)

Consolidation of Municipal Depots

  • Decommission the North Works Depot to sell land.
  • Relocate fleet operations into the Transit Garage.
  • Fit-up Rothesay Avenue Garage for Works operations.
  • Potential changes in service levels with the relocation of Works to Rothesay Avenue (deployment of crews)
  • Reduction – $35,000 (operating costs of North Depot)
  • Reduction – To be determined (TBD) (efficiencies gained from moving Fleet and Works)
  • Revenue – TBD (tax base assessment growth from development)
Pending initial presentation to Common Council

Arena Closure

  • Permanent closure and divestment of one of the City of Saint John’s civic arenas (i.e., Stewart Hurley, Charles Gorman, Peter Murray, Hilton Belyea).
  • Allocate facility bookings to remaining arenas.
  • Decrease in the number of hours and options available for those who make use of the arena; including ice and/or floor time
  • Reduction – $155,000
Pending initial presentation to Common Council
 

Arena Inventory

  • Evaluate options for full-cost recovery of the City’s remaining arena inventory versus divesting of these assets through sale.
  • Implement the more practical solution based on business case.

  • Loss of control of arena services.
  • Decreased accessibility to arena facilities.
  • Potential cost increase to arena facility users.
  • Reduction – $700,000 (Less any subsidization for ice time for city residents)
Pending initial presentation to Common Council
 

 TD Station

  • Evaluate options to reduce funding to TD Station through the Regional Facilities Commission or sell the asset.
  • Implement the more practical solution based on business case.
  • Service provider to secure other sources of funding
  • May impact availability of the facility to attract events or public use
  • Target to be determined
Pending initial presentation to Common Council
 

Aquatic Centre

  • Evaluate options to reduce funding to Aquatic Centre through the Regional Facilities Commission or sell the asset. If not possible, close the facility.
  • Implement the more practical solution based on business case.
  • Availability of programming by divesting of the asset
  • Target to be determined
Pending initial presentation to Common Council
 
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Workforce Incentives
 Description  Service Impact  Target  Status

Human Resource Management

  • Maintain salary, wage and benefit budget envelopes at current levels (i.e., no increase for labour costs) in each of 2021 and 2022.
  • To be determined based on approach taken to maintain current budgets for two years
  • Reduction – approximately $5,000,000 
    Human Resource Management
Initiative underway for Implementation (Presented to Council on December 2, 2019)

Defer Special Pension Payment

  • Defer special pension payment for two years (5%).
  • Agreement from all employee groups.
  • Costs associated with deferral in interest payments of approximately $1.1 million
  • Defer – $1,400,000
Pending initial presentation to Common Council

Public Works Casual Workforce

  • Reduce hiring of casuals/students during construction season.
  • Defer new traffic safety enhancement and safer school zone projects for the next two years
  • Limit asphalt overlay program to rural roads.
  • Stop painting bike symbols on TransCanada Trail
  • Above work supported through hiring of casuals to create capacity for these new initiatives
  • Reduction – $150,000 (Savings based on a 50% reduction of casual staffing levels)
Pending initial presentation to Common Council
 

Parks & Recreation Casual Workforce

  • Reduce hiring of casuals during peak season.
  • Eliminate mowing of lands for public purposes (LPP), highway green spaces, and street medians (outside of parks and South Central Peninsula); finding efficiencies/innovative solutions could assist in mitigating impacts
  • Eliminate maintenance and lining of school fields
  • Close remaining 20 neighbourhood playgrounds, one City-owned multipurpose field, and one City-owned ball diamond
  • Reduction – $350,000 (Savings based on a 50% reduction of casual staffing levels)
Pending initial presentation to Common Council
 
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Continuous Improvement
 Description  Service Impact  Target  Status

Standardize Cell Phone

  • Implement a billing review process

  • Creation of asset management system for mobile devices

  • Conduct analysis of data pool usage

  • Create 'Mobile Device Governance’ policy & ‘Cellular Phone Usage’ standard operating procedure

  • Green solution for recycling of old devices

  • No service impacts
  • Reduction - $50,000
Initiative underway for Implementation (Presented to Common Council November 18, 2019)

Reduce Employee Travel Costs

  • Review opportunities to update the Travel Policy and implement a corresponding standard operating procedure
  • Potential minor impact related to certification maintenance for employees
  • Reduction - $100,000
Pending initial presentation to Common Council

Reduce Equipment Idling Time

  • The Policy seeks to prevent the unnecessary vehicle and motorized equipment idling and longhauling which wastes fuel and generates needless harmful emissions
  • No service impacts
  • Reduction - $50,000
Initiative underway for Implementation (Common Council approved Policy Statement June 4, 2019 & City Manager approved Policy July 25, 2019)
 

Optimize Fleet

  • Determine if light truck & heavy equipment fleet is right-sized
  • Review opportunities for efficiency, eliminating, sharing, pooling and standardization of vehicle specifications while meeting the service demands for which the vehicle/equipment is required.
  • No service impacts
  • Reduction - approximately $300,000
Pending initial presentation to Common Council
 

Implement New Process for Sport Field Lining

  • New airless solution for lining of fields which is more environmentally friendly and provides improved ergonomic setup for employee with a higher quality end product for user

 

  •  No service impacts
  • Reduction - $10,000
Initiative underway for Implementation (Presented to Common Council November 18, 2019) 

Implement Regional Fire Dispatch

  • Seeking to secure contracts to oversee Regional Fire Dispatch of 30 departments that fall within the Saint John service area
  •  No service impacts
  • Revenue - approximately $100,000
Pending initial presentation to Common Council

Maximize Civilianization Opportunities (Police)

  • Explore options (where applicable as define in the SJPA working agreement) whereby sworn officers who retire or leave voluntarily can be replaced with a civilian, in positions that do not require Powers of Arrest
  •  No service impacts 
  • Reduction - $100,000
Pending initial presentation to Common Council

Reduce Police Fleet Maintenance

  • Enhancement of regular preventative maintenance program
  • Utilizing skilled resources for routine maintenance
  • Alignment with fleet replacement intervals to mitigate escalating maintenance
  • Collaboration and ongoing improvement identification between SJPF and City’s Fleet Division
  •  No service impacts
  • Reduction - $50,000
Initiative underway for Implementation (Presented to Common Council December 2, 2019)

Reduce Police Headquarters Operating

  • Rigorous evaluation of janitorial services
  • Energy activities such as the use of LED lighting
  • Collaboration and ongoing improvement identification between SJPF and City’s Facilities Management Division
  •  No service impacts
  • Reduction - $75,000
Initiative underway for Implementation (Presented to Common Council December 2, 2019)

Reduce Rental Vehicle

  • Review vehicle rentals related to casuals reduction
  • No service impacts
  • Reduction - $50,000 
Pending initial presentation to Common Council 

Implement External Service Agreements for IT Services

  • Potential to provide IT services to other government agencies
  • No service impacts
  • Revenue - $10,000 
Pending initial presentation to Common Council 

Launch Fire Training Academy

  • Increase existing course offering to include off-road rescue, confined space rescue, and emergency response planning exercise design/E2 compliance
  • No service impacts- leveraging subject matter expertise
  • Revenue - $23,000 (Expansion of internal/external training opportunities)

Initiative underway for Implementation (Presented to Common Council November 18, 2019)

Recover Costs Through Fire Insurance

  • Agency agreement to submit claims and collect recoverable expenses with respect to insured perils resulting from the Saint John Fire Department response to attendance at incidents  
  • No service impacts
  • Revenue - approximately $80,000
Initiative underway for Implementation  

Change Medical Call Response Criteria

  • Reduce scope of medical call criteria that Saint John Fire responds to
  • Potential to eliminate response to approximately 500 calls annually
  • Reduction - Forecasted fleet expenditure of $10,000
Pending initial presentation to Common Council

Implement Fees for Advertising in Public Right-of-Ways

  • Explore the opportunity for regulating third party advertising in City Right-of-Ways 
  • No service impacts
  • Revenue - To be determined
Pending initial presentation to Common Council 

Review Trade and Convention Centre Rental Agreements

  • Conduct audit of existing contracts
  • No service impacts
  •  Reduction - $30,000
Pending initial presentation to Common Council   

Renew West Library Agreement

  • Negotiated renewal of leased space 
  • No service impacts
  • Revenue - $30,000
Initiative underway for Implementation 

Customer Service Coordination

  • Create a single point of customer contact for citizens, businesses, and developers.
  • Pool resources through cross training and common job responsibilities to staff the customer service function.
  • Improved access to service requests and information
  •  Reduction- To be determined
Pending initial presentation to Common Council 

Administrative Penalties

  • The Local Governance Act allows the municipality to impose administrative penalties that are in direct proportion to an offense and respond quicker.
  • Recover fees without resorting to the court system, a process which generally involves longer time-frames and greater costs for all involved.
  • Develop a process for the City to issue and receive the revenue from administrative penalties rather than expend resources for Province to collect revenue through the court process.
  • Should encourage individuals and companies to comply with by-laws
  • Negativity from non-compliant personnel and organizations
  •  Revenue – To be determined

Pending initial presentation to Common Council

 Vacant and Undeveloped Property Assessments

  • Work with Service New Brunswick to ensure vacant land is assessed at the appropriate value, with the assumption that current assessments for these properties are lower than their true value.
  • Initial focus South Central Peninsula and then implementing model across the city.
  •  Potential increased cost to property owners of vacant land
  • Indirect incentive to develop properties
  •  Revenue – To be determined (Dependent on Province)

Request submitted for Province's review and awaiting results

In-sourcing Building Demolitions & Unsightly Property Clean Up

  • In-source demolitions of vacant and dangerous buildings and clean-up of unsightly buildings utilizing City staff and equipment during non-peak season.
  • Recover costs for demolition by own resources from the Province.
  • Limit contracted services for complex and emergency demolitions when City resources are not available.
  • No service impacts
  • Target – approximately $36,000 (Dependent on City Staff capacity)
Initiative underway for Implementation (Presented to Common Council December 2, 2019)

Third-Party Contract Services- Part 1 

  • In-sourcing of Electrical Maintenance Services
  • Increased efficiency - planning and scheduling of maintenance and required work
  • Improved service delivery to emergency calls
  • Preventive Maintenance Programs to be developed and implemented to reduce service interruptions and/or downtime
  • Changes in service delivery model and/or response time
  • Reduction – $30,000
Initiative underway for Implementation (Presented to Common Council November 18, 2019)

Third-Party Contract Services- Part 2

  • Review current third-party contracted services to determine if there are alternative options or potential for reductions in services that will provide savings.
  • Implement changes to contract services to achieve savings.
  • Changes in service delivery model and/or response time
  • Reduction – $70,000
Pending initial presentation to Common Council
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