Flagstaff City Council met digitally Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday evening to discuss and consider numerous resolutions, agreements and ordinances. Council unanimously approved the fiscal year 2020–2021 budget with an amendment to allocate funds to educate police officers about race.
Council expressed clear importance to the City Manager's Office on the renaming of Agassiz Street in downtown Flagstaff. The namesake of Agassiz Street comes from Louis Agassiz, a Harvard zoology professor who conducted studies trying to scientifically prove a theory of racial superiority of certain groups, according to Management Analyst Sarah Langley.
The renaming of Agassiz Street would bring upfront costs to the city such as new street signs, map updating and reprinting as well as potential compensation for affected property and business owners. Agassiz Street residents had mixed agreements on the potential renaming as many see the name as a part of Flagstaff history.
Mayor Coral Evans explained the importance of including the Black community in Flagstaff with the renaming process of Agassiz Street.
"The majority of the street runs through a historic Black neighborhood and the African American historic voice should be a part of the renaming conversation," Evans said. "There is not one street, one park bench or one building that has been named after the historic Black community."
A strong discussion regarding the importance of the renaming of Agassiz Street was held among the council and resulted in unanimous approval to rename the street.
Council also discussed the use of the old public works yard as a temporary construction yard for the Coconino Estates Improvements Phase 1 Project that will last from Spring 2020 to Fall 2022. This has become a topic of discussion as the project is heavily involved with large-scale utility and roadway improvements for the Coconino Estates neighborhood. Although council was mixed on the potential use of the land, the temporary use was approved.
Council members also approved the restructuring of the Environmental Management fee. This is intended to correlate the environmental and natural resource impact and programming necessary to mitigate environmental impacts.
The newly approved Environmental Management fee restructures the current four dollar monthly fee on services provided for water, sewer, stormwater, trash, and recycling to a consumption-based model that assesses fees at .035 cents. The goal of the newly restructured fee will result in greater equity in terms of households paying a fair share of the cost of environmental and natural resource management.
Council also held public participation over the possibility of taking direction to defund the Flagstaff Police Department. As the evening turned into morning, council adjourned with mixed feelings from the public on the possibility of continued support of the police or to defund the department.
As council gavelled into session for the second night and unanimously approved next year's proposed budget. This comes after council unanimously approved the Economic Recession Plan, as reported previously by The Lumberjack.
Lastly, councilmembers also discussed the possibility of requiring residents to wear face masks in public spaces throughout the city after Gov. Ducey allowed cities to institute face mask rules. Mayor Evans finished the discussion by adding the city attorney is currently drafting an emergency resolution requiring face masks in public spaces.