November 30, 2007

The ADA Discussion

Posted in Council Meetings at 1:50 pm by thevoicesofstuart

By Peggy Schlichter

Mr. Foy opened the discussion with a review of the 5 surveys received of the 11 sent to the shared libraries in the state.  His review included the need for a 28E Agreement stressing that it needed to be very detailed, that one city explained that it was either share with the school or go without a public library until fund-raising could be completed to build a library, that most were okay with the sharing arrangement,  that they should expect some problems but that they could be worked out.  One of the problems pointed out was the curtailing of access to the school during school hours and keeping students out of certain areas of the library particularly on Internet access.  He hoped to get more responses before the next council meeting.

Mr. Crawford then updated the council on his talks with the school architect who recommended that he talk with the School Bond Tax Committee meeting the next night.  He further recommended to Mr. Crawford that the city give the School Board a Letter of Intent to include a public library with the school.  The council decided not to use a Letter of Intent since they were not sure that this is a fact yet.  Mr. Crawford stated that he would like to have the school architect come and present options to the council on how a public library could be incorporated in a school.  Mr. Waddell stated that it was premature for RAMBO to be talking to the council at this time.  Until he hears from the School Board that they are even willing to consider this option there is no need to even talk to RAMBO.  RAMBO should be presenting the information to the ADA Committee but only after they have confirmation that the School Board is even willing to consider this option.  The Mayor agreed.  He thought that a Letter on Interest should be used to get that answer from the School Board.  The Mayor agreed and wasn’t even sure that the ADA Committee had decided that that is even an option yet.  Mr. Askren asked if the city would be helping fund it if a shared library was used.  They assumed it would.  Mr. Crawford stated that funding would have to be discussed with the School Board and worked out and that funding for a new city hall and police station were separate from the school bond.  He further stated that there are different possibilities for dual use with the school besides a library and made mention of a wellness center combined with the wrestling weight room. 

The Mayor asked Katie Phippen what her input was on a combined library with the school.  Katie stated that she would rather have a new library but she had to admit that the survey responses received were better that she expected.  She then asked if the ADA Committee has had another meeting yet.  Mr. Crawford stated that they had not because of the holiday.  She pointed out that it was great that they were exploring all these options but has anyone even asked the citizens if they are willing to support this option.  Are they going to do any studies to see if they are spinning their wheels in continuing to pursue this option.  Mr. Crawford countered with that is what he wanted to do with the Letter of Interest to get the lines of communication open with the School Board find out if it is even possible.  If not then close it off and continue with their other options.  At this point the discussion digressed to what the other options are and how they are labeled.  Which is A, which is B etc.  (I have purposely left labeling options out of this account because they were different depending on who was talking and still not clearly defined.) 

The Mayor then asked if they have abandoned the purchase of the Masonic Temple as one of the options and if they have could they state that now.  Mr. Belden stated that the numbers just weren’t there to go with that option.  Mr. Sherman stated that he could not say that because the committee has not made their recommendations yet.  Mr. Crawford stated that he would get the committee together again and finalize their recommendations to the council.  The Mayor stated that it needed to happen before December 10th.  Mr. Crawford then stated that the reason they were looking at the Masonic Temple was the potential for a cost savings.  What they are finding out is that they are not seeing much of a savings compared to a new building. 

Katie then pointed out that through her research she has found many grants available for new library construction through the State Library Association.  The Mayor asked what the Library Board recommendation was on whether they should build new or pursue a shared library with the school.  Mr. Ashour stated that the Library Boards recommendation was for a new building was presented at a previous meeting even though they have continued to provide the council with the information they have requested on other options.  Mr. Waddell pointed out that she should get busy on the grant applications as quickly as possible and that any funds made available by grants would weigh heavily on their decision of which option to take.  

The Mayor then directed that Katie get going on the grants.  That Mr. Crawford get the Letter of Interest to the School Board.  That the ADA Committee get together before the 10th and get their recommendations ready for council presentation and that they needed to continue moving forward on a new building.                                   

Mr. Belden then brought up the time-line on when they should be ready to vote on these issues and are they still talking March.  He asked is there even enough time to continue on a dual path with these different options and what happens if the school bond does not pass if they choose to go with the combined library.  The Mayor pointed out that a vote can only be scheduled on the first Tuesday of the month and a resolution must be approved 21 days prior to that.  This means that a decision has to be made in January, a resolution passed in February to set a March vote.  There was some concern addressed about whether the school would be ready for a bond issue then and without knowing for sure if they are willing to consider the shared option the city should be prepared to continue on their own path regardless.  Mr. Crawford stated that the school is intending to go forward with a bond in March.  That they should be prepared to proceed in either course directly after the school bond vote.  All council members agreed that they should be prepared to preceed on their own directly after the school bond vote.  The Mayor pointed out that they could be ready to vote on the city hall, police station irregardless of if they were ready on the library issue then be prepared to go forward on the library issue as soon as it was settled on which option they were going to take. 

At this point the discussion morphed back to what can RAMBO really tell us.  Mr. Sherman asked of Mr. Crawford had the impression that he would just come in and tell them how great it would be or did you get the feeling that he would say I wouldn’t do it because of …… .  Mr. Crawford responded with all he knew was that he had asked him a lot of questions and received answers for them.  Mr. Sherman was concerned that he would either nay say the idea or go the opposite way and say only good things about it.  Katie then offered to get information from the State Library Association on their studies on shared libraries showing the pros and cons.  She was told to get all the information she could on the issue. 

Mr. Waddell then asked if it was true or not if RAMBO is actually working for the school to pass a bond issue and that if part of that bond message is that they will be receiveing X dollars from the city for the library reducing the amount of money for the school bond to say that there is not a possibility of allowing alterior motives to enter into the picture.  Not that he is against exploring the option but that they should use caution to guard against allowing other motives to color their decision.  His job is to pass a bond.  We should not stop the gathering of information but we should guard against being influenced.                

Mr. Sherman then expressed concern about the time-line and proceeding with all the options so that they are prepared in any event to proceed.  The Mayor then stated that the ADA Committee needed to get together and get ready to make their recommendations to the council at their next meeting.             

The Mayor then stated that the next question that needed to be answered was where were they going to locate the new city hall and police station building.  Mr. Waddell agreed that that should be answered at the next meeting. The discussion then turned to the tear down of city hall for the new building and whether it is possible to convince everyone to tear down the library.  Katie pointed out that the north wall of the library is in poor shape and not exactly stable any more.  It was then pointed out that they needed to review the plans for the new building on how it will look under both options with and without a library attached.  Mr. Crawford then pointed out that they needed input from the utilities on the water storage behind city hall and the options for moving or doing away with the facilities.        

The meeting adjourned. 

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Old/New Business And Updates (Updated)

Posted in Council Meetings at 9:20 am by thevoicesofstuart

By Peggy Schlichter

Old Business.

Update info:  There is a special meeting scheduled Monday night to discuss the problems on N. Division Street.  I will post the agenda when I get it this afternoon. 

(Update)  The special meeting for Monday night has been cancelled and the handling of the N. Division Street project will take place at the next regular council meeting.  No work is scheduled to take place on the street in the mean time. 

The council discussed the problem of curbs and gutters that were set 6 inches to high, the problems that still exist with some resident approaches located in the wrong place, the need to have Forrest Aldrich present to identify exactly where the problem areas are, lay out a plan to get the fixes taken care of and the intent of the city to execute the liquidated damages clause of the construction contract.  The Mayor informed the council that she directed the contractor to get the road corrected first by tearing out the approximately 60 feet from 2nd Street north and get it re-poured before cold and bad weather hit.  She had no information other than there were other places that may need to be replaced.  As the discussion progressed they realized that without Forrest Aldrich there they did not have enough information to continue.  Mr. Askren asked that Forrest be present with copy of the shots that reflect where the problems are.  According to the Mayor the errors occurred through a mis-communication between the engineer and contractor.

New Business.

Mr. Askren asked for a $5. raise per permit that he processes for the city retroactive for the 07 calendar year.  His current fee is $35. per permit.  The raise request was based on the time it takes to review and inspect each permit and that the fee is flat and not based on a percentage of the permit cost.  There were 28 permits this year.  He recieves one check annually in December for his work.  The council decided to handle the issue during the next regular council meeting. 

   

November 28, 2007

More To Come

Posted in General at 3:44 pm by thevoicesofstuart

There is still a couple more topics to cover. 

Will try to get them up by tomorrow.

Is anyone going to watch the debate on CNN at 7 pm tonight?  If you do and have any comments about it use this post.

Utility Board Discussion

Posted in Council Meetings at 1:46 pm by thevoicesofstuart

By Peggy Schlichter

Compensation Discussion 

Mr. Christensen opened the discussion with a request to increase the Utility Board compensation to equal that of the city council.  He re-capped that their compensation was set in 1993 at $400. per year, per person flat fee.  The examples he showed reflected the amount of compensation given in other cities and how they compare to Stuart.  They brought up that they are responsible for setting the priorities for accomplishing utility projects, union contract negotiations and personnel matters which reflect changing needs for the number of meetings required.  In 05, 06 and 07 they held 18, 12 and 20 meetings respectively in order to handle utility requirements.  The council decided to make a resolution for the next regular council meeting to change the compensation for the Utility Board to reflect the recommended changes with the stipulation that the payment is made from the Utility Fund and not the General Fund.

Right-Of Way Discussion

Because of the future plans to bury all utilities in the right-of-way the Utility Board requested that the City Code be changed to prohibit any new planting of trees in the right-of-way.  There was some discussion about the trees that were damaged during the re-construction of N. Division Street and how trees in the right-of-way may cause future damage to water, sewer and storm drainage lines.  Mr. Askren thought that this was already in the New Construction provisions of the City Code but was not sure.  Mr. Christensen stated that he could find nothing in the code covering existing residences and property.  They agreed that this was a good idea and that the code needed to be researched prior to making any changes.  Mr. Ashour is to review the City Code and place the ordinance on the agenda for the next regular meeting if needed.

The CCC Funding Discussion

Posted in Council Meetings at 11:28 am by thevoicesofstuart

By Peggy Schlichter

Last nights meeting ran until 10 pm with the first two hours debating whether to use a 50/50 split on TIF/General Obligation funding, where the $26 k shortfall will be made up from under that scenario and the council’s insistence for some type of agreement to protect the city from liability.  

It was decided early on that using TIF would be in the best interest of the taxpayers as long as a way to cover the general fund shortfall could be found.  The use of TIF will cause a $1.77 increase in the per thousand property tax levy compared to a $3.28 increase under a straight General Obligation funding. 

The discussion of TIF usage and how to cover the shortfall centered on whether it is permissible under the referendum governing Hotel/Motel Tax money to convert it to general fund money to cover $21 k of the shortfall.  The remaining $4 k would just be absorbed by the city.  Mr. Cory, the bond attorney, is to give the city a legal opinion by 3 pm today.  Mr. Sherman pointed out that he did not want to commit the use of Hotel/Motel Tax monies for the next 17 years as the only way to make up the shortfall.  If it was for this year only he did not see a problem if it was permissible.  He also did not want the Hotel/Motel Tax Committee cut out of the process as it is their mandate to recommend use of that money to the council and the money was designated to handle other worthwhile projects the city would otherwise have no funds for.

Mr. Belden then brought up that there was a need for some type of purchase/leaseback agreement to protect the city.  Mr. Cory explained that there needed to be several items covered in the agreement and that all players understood the necessity of conditions for the grant.  He also restated that the driving force in the time-line is the December 1, deadline for capturing TIF for next year.  The completion of the agreement would be a condition of the grant and completed prior to the bond issuance.  The council was informed by Mr. Smull that Vision Iowa dropped their requirement for a purchase/leaseback agreement when they were notified that the money was a grant from the city.  He also informed them that Project Restore is completely comfortable with the need for provisions governing the grant. 

Based on the discussion it was finally determined that pending the legal opinion of Mr. Cory on the use of Hotel/Motel Tax money to cover the shortfall and a agreement was in place prior to bond issuance a resolution was made to fund the CCC using the 50/50 split of TIF and General Obligation Bonds using a Annual Appropriation Clause for fiscal year 08/09 only.  If the legal decision is favorable for Hotel/Motel Tax usage Mr. Ashour is given the authority to continue with preparing the paperwork for the next regular council meeting.  If not, a special meeting was set for Thursday at 6:30 pm.  The motion was made and passed.      

         

November 26, 2007

Agenda, Special Joint Meeting, City Council and Utility Board

Posted in Agenda at 4:05 pm by thevoicesofstuart

Here is the agenda for the Special Joint Meeting, Tuesday November 27th.

Special Meeting Agenda

November 23, 2007

Let’s Talk Government

Posted in my thoughts at 1:39 pm by thevoicesofstuart

By Peggy Schlichter

Under the CCC post we started talking about taxes, entitlements and grants and the sources of revenue that fund different programs.  Along with the need to start contacting politicians to let them know how we, as individuals, feel about topics that are being discussed in government and the direction we see they are taking in these different areas. 

This is a very broad and far-reaching topic that can go just about anywhere because you cannot talk about governement without talking about money.  The other unavoidable topic that has to go hand in hand is history.  Without understanding the history of government and money today’s problems are inexplicable. 

There is a lot of misconception about how a government funds itself, establishes and makes apportionments, entitlements and generally operates.  Add to that the tendency to gain and hold power to dictate over the manner of use of government funds as a life long career. 

So, I am going to make a couple of broad statements here and we will see where the discussion goes. 

As always these are my thoughts in these statements and mine alone.

The majority of democrats and republicans have bought into the notion that democracy means socialism under a totalitarian rule without even realilizing it.  Their voting records support this notion since government has expanded exponentially since the Carter Administration in entitlement programs under both parties.  This morphing of democracy to the centralized control and regulation of our lives is happening because we allow it.  The majority of voters have bought into the same notion of entitlement.

Since 1996 every dollar paid in income tax goes directly to make interest payments against the national debt.  Not one penny goes to paying for the current years budget.  How did that happen?  For the exact same reason.  The majority of voters have bought into the notion that entitlements are good and how can they get their share because “they are free, aren’t they”.  They are not and never have been. 

This continued expansion of entitlement programs has bankrupted the country.  We are a deficit nation by all standards of definition.  The economy is controlled by so many central government regulations US company’s are losing the ability to compete worldwide.  Government attempts to regulate the economy through tightening and loosening credit causes bust and boom cycles.  The loose credit, boom cycle, is the cause of inflation which deflates the value of money affecting spending power.  The tightening of credit, bust cycle, accomplishes the same thing because when there is little ability to acquire additional funds to meet existing payments acquired during boom cycles causing unemployment and bankruptsy.  Whether it is a company, mortgage, vehicle or any other article or activity.

Just how the hell did we got to this point in our experiment in democracy anyway?  I have some thoughts on that but it will have to wait for another time. 

Okay, I admit these are macro statements and we live in a micro town.  Take offense or not to them.  So pick a place to start and we will see where it goes.      

  

November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

Posted in General at 1:23 pm by thevoicesofstuart

By Peggy Schlichter

The Pilgrims
In the year of 1620
on a cold Decembre day
a hundred and two pilgrims
sailed into Plymouth Bay.
Still wary from their voyage –
still gacing winter’s chill –
they kept their sights on freedom
with courage, work, and will.
Pilgrims did not stop to think
of riches, fame, or glory
while bravely playing starring roles in our new nation’s story.
by Bobbi Katz

Have a look at what foods were available for the Pilgrims First Thanksgiving and read the only two known contemporary accounts from the 1621 Thanksgiving.

Here is a great site for Thanksgiving Printables for the kids to help keep them entertained.  More printables form a site that is education based.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

November 19, 2007

Fact Checking The Presidential Candidates

Posted in 2008 Elections at 5:13 pm by thevoicesofstuart

By Peggy Schlichter

Have you ever wondered about the sound bites used by presidential candidates, the accusations thrown at other candidates or even if what you have heard is true or not? 

If so, there is a website that is dedicated to fact checking the candidates.  The St. Petersburg Times and Congregational Quarterly have teamed up to research and debunk all the statements, claims and rumors circulating about the candidates.

They have articles, a Truth-O-Meter that identifies at a glance the results of their research, an Attack File that evaluates the latest barbs being thrown and their accuracy.  It even breaks down the issues and what the candidates are saying.

I especially like the “Pants On Fire” over the meter when it is an out right lie. 

There are multiple ways to access the information and the site is easy to navigate.

Here it is.  http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/

   

November 16, 2007

Community Cultural Center Financial Review and New/Old Business

Posted in Council Meetings at 5:46 pm by thevoicesofstuart

By Peggy Schlichter

Mr. Smull thanked the council for allowing the bond to be placed on the ballot.   He informed the council that Vision Iowa asked that they get the City Attorney, Mr. Ashour, Mayor,  Mr. Mark Cory the Bond Attorney, Vision Iowa Representatives and members of Project Restore together for a meeting preferably in Des Moines to work out the resolution for funding.  As soon as he has possible dates for the meeting he will get with everyone involved to get the meeting scheduled.  He went on to state that it was Project Restores recommendation to use as much TIF money as possible to keep the burden on the taxpayer down.  A special meeting on November 27th has been tentatively scheduled to pass the resolution for funding to allow time for the TIF request submission which must be in by December 1st.  Project Restore redid the construction estimate adding the dome into the numbers and added another 4 % cushion.  The total for the project as it stands is just over $2.4 M.  Between the bond and the Vision Iowa Grant the entire project is now funded. 

Mr. Chip Shultz from Ruan Securities then reviewed the funding options.  A review of using 25, 50 and 75% TIF money for funding was covered.  Mr. Sherman asked if he was correct in saying that what passed was a 100 % General Obligation funding and that there was no mention of TIF usage.  Mr. Schultz told him that was correct but all along there was mention of the possibility of using TIF and that was the reason the Urban Renewal Area was amended.  It doesn’t mean you have to use TIF but everything is lined up so you have the option.  Mr. Crawford then stated that the voters gave us the authority to use general obligation funding but not that it has to be done that way.  Mr. Schultz agreed.  Mr. Askren then asked if the estimate numbers were bid construction numbers and how long they were good for.  Mr. Smull informed them that they were and good for one year then additional years with a 4 % add-on each year for inflation.  Mr. Sherman then questioned whether TIF could be used when the project does not belong to the city.  Mr. Schultz explained that because you included it in the Urban Renewal Plan the area then qualifies for TIF and that this is done by cities a lot to help in area redevelopment.  A review of the different options continued with these examples.  With straight general obligation funding a $100 k house after roll-back would be $12. per month.  A $175 k house is $21. per month.  On the opposite side using 75% TIF a $100 k house is $3. per month.  A $175 k house is $5.27 a month. 

The discussion then turned to the loss of revenue in the general fund due to the use of TIF.  If TIF is used the general fund must make up $52 k of revenue.  Mr. Schultz stated that is the challenge when using TIF.  Mr. Ashour then informed the council that restructuring inside of the general fund is difficult and means cutting services or personnel.  The discussion them turned to what the implications will be when it comes time to fund the city hall, library and police station and the additional impacts on the general fund when TIF is used there and causes additional general fund shortfalls.  Mr. Ashour informed the council that if TIF is used the tax impact is not just for the bond but also causes an decrease in the general fund which will require a cut in services.  At this point there was some discussion on what if’s.  Mr. Schultz then brought the discussion back on-line explaining that there is a time sensitive component because if you want to start capturing TIF revenues in 08/09 the resolution must be signed before December 1st so that it can be certified as a TIF option.  If you do not use TIF the time sensitivity goes away.  Mr. Crawford then stated that he wanted more time to think on which way they should go.  Mr. Schultz then informed the council that certification for TIF can only be done once per year and December 1st is it for 08/09.  Mr. Ashour then stated that if the issue is not settled until January/February TIF could still be used.  Mr. Schultz then pointed out that by missing this years certification they would lose TIF capture for next year.  If it was passed later and TIF was not certified this year you would not have the TIF capture to satisfy the debt.  Certification of TIF is a one time a year window and that is it.  There are no second chances.  Mr. Vitzthum then asked the council to reward the taxpayers on this project by using TIF because there are other bond issues coming up and that it makes sense to spread the tax relief.  The discussion then countered back and forth with why TIF should or should not be used.  Mr. Sherman then brought up how are we going to sell these other projects to the public if they do not save the TIF for them.  It was then explained that when TIF is certified each year the percentage of use can be re-allowcated between projects.  They could use all TIF this year then next year when there are other projects the TIF could be re-allocated between them.  Mr. Schultz then continued his presentation on how TIF works. 

(Please remember that the next few sentences only reflect how this one funding will effect the general tax levy.  There are NO other previously passed obligations included in the computation.)

The bottom line effect on the general tax levy of $15.19 per thousand on the comparison of TIF versus General Obligation is: 

Using TIF to fund the project will add $1.51. 

Using General Obligation to fund the project will add $3.26.          

There is a savings to the taxpayers of $1.77 per thousand if TIF is used to fund the project.  This is based on the assumption that the city is able to find funding for the loss of $52 k from the general fund or services are cut.

Mr. Crawford then brought up that even if we are able to make up the general fund shortfall we still have other projects and if we use TIF on them it will effect the general fund further.   The discussion them turned to how the shortfall in the general fund could be handled.  Mr. Ashour restated that there is no extra money in the budget to cover the general fund loss without cutting services or personnel.  Mr. Sherman brought up that the real number they should be looking at is $120 k because of the other projects and they should think this thing out before they decide.  Mr. Ashour agreed and stated that they should use general obligation because there was no way to make up the shortfall on the $52 k let alone $120 k.  At this point the discussion became rather pointed and there was a lot of pressure brought to bear on Mr. Ashour to find the money.  Mr. Ashour then pointed out that other levies cannot be increased because they are based on other criteria.  That the budget is based on salaries, equipment and maintenance.  If there is a budget shortfall and you budgeted for a new piece of equipment or personnel you don’t buy or hire.  He pointed out that you just voted to hire a new officer and to buy a sweeper which do you want to change your mind on.  There was no response form the council on this.  Mr. Waddell then pointed out that there was a budgeted, unfilled police officer position all year where is the money from that.  Mr. Ashour countered with don’t you remember you voted to pay additional hours to the existing police out of that money.  That is where it went based on your decision.  Mr. Vitzhum then brought up that if the city hadn’t used TIF for McDonald’s it would be sitting in Adair right now and we would not be getting any revenue benefits in the community.  We would not have gotten the Super 8, Burger King or the AmericInn.  Mr. Sherman stated that McDonald’s brings in revenue.  Mr. Vitzthum questioned and this won’t.  Mr. Sherman stated he had no idea whether it would or not.  The discussion then turned to should they wait until the 27th to decide on what they were going to do.  Mr. Schultz stated that he needed to know now in order to have the paperwork ready for the 27th or should they prepare it for both options and at what percentages.  Mr. Sherman brought up that if they use the whole $900 k TIF the general fund shortfall is $145 k.  What percentage did they want to use?  Mr. Waddell then asked Mr. Ashour how do all these other towns use so much TIF and we don’t, how do they do it?  Mr. Ashour started to answer and was cut off by Mr. Waddell when he said just like I have been doing it.  Mr. Waddell was under the assumption that he had not been using TIF and told him so.  Mr. Ashour countered with we have and that is how they have funded a lot of the other projects the last couple of years.  That he uses TIF on a rebate basis so that it does not effect the budget.  Which means that whatever they paid he gave back so that it would not effect the budget.  It was planned out in advance so that the city would have money each year and the tax levy was adjusted so that the payback was accomplished.  The problem comes in when you wish to use TIF on a larger scale, you have to study it and not make decisions on how it is going to effect your general fund not just decide overnight to use it.  A general fund shortfall effects all departments.  You have to talk to them and see where cuts can be made to make it up without jeopardizing operations.  At this point Mr. Schultz stated that he needed to look at his general fund and see if there was anything being paid from there that could be funded from somewhere else.  Mr. Ashour countered with the budget is set up so that the other levies cover the areas they are suppose to and there is no where else to levy the shortfall unless you want to un-hire the new police officer.  This was ignored by the council and they began questioning the use of the general fund.  Mr. Ashour then re-iterated that the only option they had was to look at the different services and tell him where they wanted to cut services or personnel.  Mr. Waddell then asked again if there was anything in the general fund that could be funded under a different levy.  The answer was no.  You have to get the department heads to come and talk about what they can cut and how much.  You cannot just do this without planning.  At this point the discussion digressed to some nitpicking of line items and general implications that he needed to make it happen.  Mr. Waddell then rather pointedly stated that Mr. Ashour was being difficult and refusing to try to make up the shortfall by putting a wall up and saying it cannot be done.  That he could not believe that there is nothing that could be done when he had not looked at the budget yet.  Mr. Ashour rebutted that he looks at the budget every day and already knows that what he is telling them is true and that they needed to understand that they will have to help by making some decisions about services and personnel.  You left me with a $90 k shortfall in the funding of the bathhouse to come up with that I still have to find somewhere.  Did you come up with it anywhere? No.  Now you say I have to find up to $150 k if you use all the TIF.  I am not saying it cannot be done, I am saying that it cannot be done overnight, it takes planning and you have to help.  Mr. Crawford then stated that he wanted to have the paperwork ready on the 27th and they would make a decision then.  Mr Belden then brought up that they needed to look at the other projects and see how much TIF they wanted to use on them and how it would effect the budget also.  Mr. Crawford then asked Mr. Schultz how optimal the city budget was as far as where levies could be moved or was it already optimal to some percentage and there was very little that could be done with it.  Mr. Shultz was unable to say since he does not work with the budget.  Mr. Ashour then stated that he would get with Mr. Schultz and have a meeting to discuss ways to make up the shortfall.  The Mayor asked if anyone else would like to be there.  Mr. Waddell did not want to attend but he did not want to hear anything about cutting personnel or services to accomplish it.  He wanted to use TIF but he doesn’t want to cut budget to do it and if it could not be done without cutting budget he wanted to go with general obligation bonds.  Mr. Crawford raised the point that it really didn’t matter because they were going to have to raise taxes no matter what with all the projects so he didn’t see what the difference is if we use TIF on this or not.  Messieurs Belden and Sherman pointed out that while they were shopping for budget shortfalls they needed to be shopping for all the projects not just this.  Mr Waddell stated that if he doesn’t find the shortfall that is fine we will use general obligation bonds because that was what the citizen’s voted for.  And when it comes to the other projects we will use general obligation bonds on them too.  Mr. Schultz reminded them that they can fund general obligation bonds with TIF each year but you have to sit down and figure out what you want to do.

A motion was then made to extend the meeting past 9:30 and approved.

New Business – Mr. Askren brought up that he has had several calls from employees at the ethanol plant about wanting to bring their camping trailers into town and park them for living quarters.  Mr. Foy provided that it was not permissible under city code to allow this.  A side discussion about a graveled lot that was used by the owner that way every weekend and Mr. Askren stated that he had talked with the owner and that he was not to be hooked up to city services.  The decision was finally made that since zoning does not allow it the answer was no they could not.  If someone outside of the city limits wanted to let them use their property they didn’t care.

The second issue was that there was a walnut tree on the city property that the the boy scouts use all the time that an individual wanted to cut down, sell the wood and make a donation to the boy scouts from the proceeds with.  After some discussion it was decided that they would follow existing city policy and if it is a good tree leave it be.  Mr. O’keefe volunteered that he has two walnut trees in his yard that he needed taken out and if the gentleman did the work and still made the donation to the scouts he could have them.

Mr. Askren asked the council if they wished to enforce the sidewalk code requiring the installation of sidewalks on new home construction permits.  This applies to new home construction on streets with curb and gutters.  He has several people who have not installed their sidewalks and have ignored his letters to get it done.  It was decided that code would be enforced.  No more extensions would be made and they needed to just get it done.

Old Business – Mr. Waddell wanted to thank Mr. Ashour that the packets looked alot better and had the information about the different topics in there so a informed decision could be make.

Meeting Adjourned.                                                                                           

                                         

November 15, 2007

City Hall, Library and Police Building Study

Posted in Council Meetings at 4:47 pm by thevoicesofstuart

By Peggy Schlichter

Mr. Waddell opened the discussion by asking Mr. Foy what considerations were used in the Library Study that lead them to their decision to recommend a new building over renovation of the old building.  Mr. Foy recapped that floor space, incorporating technology needs, work space needs, space planning needs to maximize personnel efficiency to avoid adding staff, the ability to expand in the future and the dollars required to upgrade versus build new went in to decision to recommend a new building.  A copy of the Library Study was not available for the council to review.  Mr. Crawford then asked that if they found a existing building that met all the needs just mentioned and would be less expensive would they have any problem with that.  Mr. Foy acknowledged that it should be looked at but his recommendation was based solely on the question of renovate or build new as requested by the council.  Based on the figures he had on the renovation costs they ran up to 70 – 80 % of the cost of a new building.  Mr. Crawford asked for a clarification that the price comparison was based on the Masonic Temple or not.  Mr. Foy stated it was since that is the only building that they had numbers to compare to at the time. 

Mr. Crawford then updated the council on his conversations with the school on the possibility of combining the two libraries.  He stated that it was an initial conversation to see if the school would consider the possibility.  The school acknowledged he should talk with the group on the Tax Management Facility Planning Group and discuss options.  Mr. Crawford was to address the group the next evening at their meeting and would get back to the council.  The Mayor asked if he was saying they should not move forward until the school decides what they are going to do.  Mr. Crawford then mentioned that the school was looking a a variety of options and that they should explore the possibilities but should not be willing to wait if the school debate drags on.  The Mayor and Mr. Waddell also cautioned that even if the concession was there for a combined library the result would still be dependent on the passing of the School Bond Issue and if that failed they would be in the same situation as now.  Mr. Crawford acknowledged that but stated further that a option under consideration was the city hall and police station could be a separate building from the library.  Mr. Foy then mentioned that there are only 8 combined libraries in Iowa and in their research all of the state and regional library associations report negative on it.  If you continue to want to think about it I would certainly want time to contact some of the towns and schools who have done it and see how it worked for them, to see what the problems were, what they had to overcome, that type of information.  The Mayor told him that she thought he needed to do that and report back.  Messieurs Crawford and Sherman then reasoned that they needed to get together with several of them and discuss what has or has not worked for them, the 28E Agreements that were being used and what problems they experienced.  I brought up that they should also get Katie Phippen and Penny Cave together to discuss what their issues are and if they see any benefit considering the school library is consistently under funded each year.  You are already looking at an area that is mostly ignored by the school for its funding.  You might want to take those implications into account while you are trying to figure this out since it could have a massive impact if you went down that road without exploring it first.  Mr. Foy then informed the council that the Department of Education this past year has required that a librarian in a public school must not only have a library degree but a teaching degree also.  That would impact not only their personnel but ours also since neither now qualify.  Mr. Belden then raised the issue that they needed to have some sort of time-line to explore this issue so that it does not impact on their non-compliant ADA issues time-line.  Mr. Bump then asked that the minutes reflect that they are talking about ADA issues during the meeting.  Mr. Waddell then stated that he sees no problem going down both paths as long as if the decision is made to combine the two and the referendum fails they were ready to go forward with their own referendum immediately afterwards since there is no compelling reason for one city building to accommodate everything.  He does not want to wait and start the process for the library after a school vote fails.  Waiting another two or three months on the library is not a long time even though it seems like it if that is the way they want to go.  The Mayor agreed but doesn’t want them to hang their hat on a school vote stating that they need to continue on their path at the same time.  Mr. Waddell then brought up does the council even want to be a part of a school bond issue, that they should discuss that, and re-iterated that dual path is the way to go.  Mr. Crawford then brought up additional architectural fees that would be incurred on the school side by combining libraries and that we have already incurred fees on our planning.  Mr. Sherman then stated that as they proceed on the city plans they could leave provisions in the architectural plans to accommodate adding on a library to minimize costs overall.  Mr. Askren agreed there were several things they could do that way so both paths could be looked at.  Mr. Sherman thought that they should just plan for the whole thing as they started out with since it was more cost effective to cut out of plans than add to them.  Mr. Crawford and the Mayor agreed.  Questions were then raised about the water storage equipment located behind the City Hall and whether is was still used or needed.  No one had an answer but Mr. Askren pointed out that we had plenty of sources for water.  Mr. O’keefe raised two questions.  The first was whether the size of the library would have to be changed if it is combined with the school and how much the change would be and second the way he understood it is that if the library was located south of the tracks its funding would change drastically and was that true.  He found out that it was true that locating the library south of the tracks would drastically effect the funding.  No one had a answer for the first question.  He then asked if the current plans included provisions for extending the library in the future.  Mr. Sherman explained that expansion was built into the current plans.  Mr. Waddell then asked if they needed to have a special meeting to discuss some of these things they had just talked about.  The Mayor thought that they needed to get together and figure out what they wanted to do.  I then asked when is the ADA Committee suppose to come back and make their recommendations to the council on how they should proceed.  Wasn’t that the decision made at the end of the last council meeting that they were to get together, review all the information they had and come back and recommend to the council which direction they thought they should proceed.  The Mayor agreed that was correct.  Mr. Sherman than asked what was going to happen.  Was the committee going to get together and meet again, had they met again yet?  Mr. Crawford informed the council that they had not met yet nor had they discussed any of the issues talked about from the last council meeting.  After further discussion it was decided that the committee needed to get together and be brought up to speed on all the other information from the last meeting and what Mr. Crawford has found out from the school, what information Mr. Foy finds out from contacting these other combined libraries and decide what their recommendation is to the council.  The council then decided to hear their recommendations and discuss how they wished to proceed at the Special Meeting tentatively scheduled for November 27th at 6:30 pm to approve the resolution for the funding of the Community Cultural Center. 

Tomorrow, the CCC funding discussion.                      

   

November 14, 2007

The Street Sweeper And Police Discussions

Posted in Council Meetings at 5:56 pm by thevoicesofstuart

By Peggy Schlichter

The Sweeper  

When the discussion was opened Bob was not present to talk the the council.  It was learned that he was on vacation.  They had several questions about the year, # of hours on the sweeper, it’s condition.  The council went around the table a reviewed each of their conversations with Bob before he went to Nebraska to look at the sweeper.  It was determined that they had no new information about what was found from his inspection of the vehicle.  Mr. Askren called Bob to see if he could get the information.  He relayed that the sweeper is a 1996 with 3000 hours.  The price is $38 k.  All service records are with the vehicle.  The records show the oil was changed every 100 hours.  It has a dust-free cab with heat, a/c, a broom on both sides and manufactured by Pelican.  Mr. Airhart was instructed to ask for free delivery.  The council made and passed a motion to purchase the sweeper.

The Police

Robert asked the council to approve the hiring of John Larson.  His is currently the one man force in Adair.  He is certified with 9 years experience and has passed his background check and MMPI test.  The council made a resolution to hire him with a starting pay of $32,400 with a raise to $33,000 after 6 months probation.  The resolution includes a residency requirement within 6 months.

Mr. Belden raised the question of when were they were going to assess the need for a fourth officer and what kind of metrics were to be applied to the determination.  Mr. Waddell brought up that 42 hours a week times 4 officers provided 24/7 coverage.  Mr. Sherman brought up number and types of calls need to be looked at.  Mr. O’keeffe asked is they were going to require service contract.  It was explained that since he would not require academy attendance a repayment contract was not needed and that he is a “at will” employee just like everyone else.  Mr. Crawford then asked if this will eliminate the need for part-time officers.  His next question was what makes four the optimal number of officers and not five or three.  It was then re-explained by Mr. Waddell about how the number of hours works for coverage.  Robert pointed out that unless there is a increase in population or industry he did not see the need for a fifth officer.  Mr. Askren then pointed out that when you get to the five officer level they are required to pay over-time.  Mr. Crawford than stated that he knew they were just in a replacement mode and that it appeared that four was the magic number.  Mr. Waddell countered with we are going with four because that gives us 24/7 coverage and eliminates over-time and part-time.  I asked if the crime statics were looked at comparing a year ago to now and was told by the Mayor that she didn’t think the police had anything like that to look at.  The Mayor then stated that plus we were at four officers before the changes occurred.  Mr Crawford than asked the Mayor if she was confident in the information that Robert provided her and is she fine with four officers is the way to go.  The answer was I am perfectly fine with having 24 hour coverage 365 days a year.  The resolution was made and passed to hire the new officer.

A review was given on the speed monitor you have seen in town.  Over 4 days on Front Street based on  4,846 cars the average speed was 31 mph in a posted speed limit of 35 mph.  One record showed that a vehicle did go through at 63 mph.  On SW 7th Street, a posted 25 mph street, 3,096 cars passed with an average speed of 26 mph.  There was no information yet on the site south of town since the guy who monitors the machine was on vacation. 

Robert than brought up that they needed to move the 45 mph sign back south to 113th Street then north 1/10th of a mile change to 35 mph by the Stuart 66.  A motion was made and passed to change the speed limit signs.  A resolution to implement the change will be presented at the Special Council Meeting tentatively scheduled for November 27th. 

53 Nuisance Properties have been contacted.  35 have been cleaned up and mowed.  9 have been given waivers to continue cleanup because they are making an honest effort to get the job done.  8 will need a notices served for non-compliance.  Stolen property was recovered at one site.

The City Hall, Library and Police building study and the Community Cultural Center finance options will be covered in seperate posts tomorrow.

     

November City Council Meeting – The Quick And Easy Parts (Updated)

Posted in Council Meetings at 2:25 pm by thevoicesofstuart

By Peggy Schlichter

Since this meeting ran to 3 hours and 14 minutes I have decided to break the post down into parts.  I will cover the shorter discussions here. 

Casey’s General Store and the KC Mart (Stuart 66) got their liquor permits renewed.

The council was visited by 3 Webelos working on their Citizenship Activity Pin.  They were there to observe how the City Council works.  Unfortunately the recording did not pick up the youngsters names.  If anyone can identity them for me please do so in a comment. 

Snow Removal Contract Proposal – John Schwinger, Schwinger Lawn Service, has been contracted to clean sidwalks if notified by the city.  This is to be done on sidewalks that have not been cleared by homeowners within the first 48 hours after snowfall ends.  Homeowners will be assessed for the cleaning on their property tax bills.  There was a concern by the city’s insurance about liability clauses between the contractor and city’s policy.  The city policy needed an endorsement to interface the two policys.  It basically adds the contractor as an additional insured person to the city policy.  There is an additional insurance fee to the city of $50.00 per year for the endorsement.  The reason for this compared to other city contractors is that there is a possibility for dispute with homeowners since the city is ordering the snow removal be done.  There was no mention of the fee that would be assessed.  It was further decided that the police would monitor the sidewalks like a municipal infraction and handle notifing John when sidewalk snow removal was required.  The council decided that because they did not want the Street Supervisor driving around checking sidewalks when he had more important work to do.  If the snow is removed before John gets there, after notificaton for snow removal, no assessment will be made.  This applies to all sidewalks in town even if the sidewalk goes nowhere.  The motion was made and passed to accept the contract. 

Update:  A $40. fee will be assessed on sidewalks the city orders cleaned.                  

Forest Aldrich from Venestra and Kimm updated the council on the $1.7 m Waste Water Plant Grant that was submitted last month.  Forest expects an answer by the middle of December.  The city is also applying for a $500 k Community Development Block Grant.  The third portion of the funding is for a State Revolving Fund Low Interest Loan at 3 1/4 % requiring the city to submit their application to be placed on the Intended Use Plan.  The application is for $2.8 m which is the total cost of the project.  This is done in case some or all of the grants are denied.  It is only a notification of the possible amount the city may need to request.  The only amount that will actually be requested is the portion not covered by grants.  Inclusion on this Plan starts the clock on enviromental clearances and locks in the funds for when the city is ready to apply.  The council approved application to be on the Intended Use Plan.  The Community Development Block Grant Applicaiton was approved for submission after there were no objections during the public hearing.    

The pay estimate and change orders were approved for N. Division Street.

A concern was raised that some drive entries were not put in the right place during the reconstruction.  The problem at 103 N. 4th was raised as being to far south on this owners property.  Forrest is looking at it today and will get it resolved.  Anyone who is experiencing a problem with drive entry placement should notify the city as soon as possible for resolution.  Mr. Sherman brought up another instance that needed to be looked at.

The contractor is behind schedule and has missed the completion date on N. Division Street.  They have requested a contract extension due to the rainy weather during the begining of construction.  They are 3 to 4 weeks behind schedule.  They estimate completion by Thanksgiving Day.  Forrest informed the council that the standard response to that is that they will assess the situation at the end of the project.  Based on that assessment the council can then decide if they wish to apply damages to the situation.  The council decided to follow that path and took no action.

Mr. Crawford asked Forrest about the fence at the sports complex that had not been finished yet.  Forrest stated that the company still had work and a lot of cleanup to do yet.

John Gulbranson, Shaw Belden Insurance, addressed the council on the Building Evaluation Report done by EMC Insurance.  EMC decided to actually evaluate the cost of replacement on the City Hall, Library and Fire Station.  This is normally done at renewal and by applying a percentage figure to determine the new value.  EMC sent a assessor to look at the buildings and make the assessment this year.  This is the first time they have done this in 15 years.  John explained that each year they randomly pick a number of policies to assess.  The following figures are for buildings only and do not include content costs.  The City Hall is carried at $237,793. and needed to be raised to $336,374.  The Fire Station is carried at $209,687. and needed to be $393,202.  The Library is carried at $260,909. and needed to be $324,121.  The council then discussed the difference between actual cash value and replacement cost policies.  They learned that actual cash value policies carry a co-payment penalty and in the event of a partial or full loss the city would be held responsible for a percentage of the loss.  They then agreed that the replacement value policy was sound and approved the $180. premium increase for the remainder of this years policy.  The increase on next years policy is a total of $480. for the increased valuations.

The council approved the payment of $7,500. to Baldwin Archetects for the drawings of the new city buildings.

The council approved the extension of the Garbage Collection Contract for another 5 years.

The Annual Financial Report was approved.       

The remaining topics will be covered under seperate posts.    

November 13, 2007

Special Meeting, Stuart Utilities

Posted in Agenda at 2:36 pm by thevoicesofstuart

Here is the agenda for tomorrows special meeting of the Stuart Utilities.  Please note that the time of the meeting is 12 noon Wednesday.

Special Meeting, Stuart Utilities

November 10, 2007

Veterans Day

Posted in General at 10:26 pm by thevoicesofstuart

 To see previous years posters or to print this poster or posters from previous years go here.  The site has posters back to 1978.

Library of Congress, Today In History Collection. 

The history of Veterans Day.

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