Janesville City Council: No interest in Green Tier program
JANESVILLE The Janesville City Council will not take up the controversial Green Tier program again, at least not this year.
City Manager Eric Levitt said most council members have little interest in pursuing it.
"I'm sure (the controversy) may have had a part in it," Levitt said.
The council will keep moving forward with its own environmental initiatives, he said.
The city's sustainability committee had recommended the council sign on to the Green Tier program and partner with the state Department of Natural Resources.
A group of residents and non-residents worked to convince the council to vote "no."
Those opposed claimed the city could never opt out of the contract—that was disproved after city staff researched the question—and that the partnership could cause the city to spend more money and add regulation, which was neither proved nor disproved.
The group said Green Tier has its roots in Agenda 21, a United Nations initiative they claim undermines the U.S. Constitution with a goal of socialism.
Group members showed up at council meetings for lengthy public hearings and spoke on the issue even when it was not on the agenda. One man spoke at Monday's meeting, for example.
After the two-hour public hearing in June, the council narrowly defeated the proposal. The council then requested more information from the administration, but members apparently weren't satisfied with some of the answers.
Jim Farrell, a member of the city council and the sustainability committee, is disappointed but said the sustainability committee is prepared to go forward with its own initiatives.
Farrell believes the arguments of those opposed to Green Tier were "just off the wall" and had little merit.
"I think those individuals had too much impact on the process, in my opinion," he said.
Many who spoke were not from the city, he said.
"It would have helped if we had more people speaking in favor," Farrell said. "That's what I regret. We all have some responsibility for that."
Farrell doesn't believe other council members bought into all the testimony, especially concerning the United Nations, but several were concerned about added regulations and possible costs.
Councilman DuWayne Severson, who voted against adopting Green Tier, said he was concerned about "adding another layer of government to get something done."
The city has an excellent staff, great community members and good people on the sustainability committee, he said.
"They have taken steps that are in the right direction," Severson said. In addition, "there were a lot of unanswered questions," he said.
The sustainability committee is ready and inspired to move forward now that it knows it cannot rely on Green Tier, Farrell said.
"We have budgets coming up and don't want to just keep pushing something that doesn't seem to have a lot of support," Farrell said.