September 29, 2008

Agenda, Special Meeting, City Council

Posted in Council Meetings at 7:05 pm by thevoicesofstuart

Here is the agenda for the Tuesday night special meeting.

Agenda, Special Meeting


September 26, 2008

What Did You Think Of The Debate

Posted in 2008 Elections at 10:42 pm by thevoicesofstuart

By Peggy Schlichter

I sat through the debate fighting the urge to switch over to reruns of the Dog Whisperer.  But I made my self sit there and listen.

For me it just confirmed my original thoughts that there is very little difference between the two candidates.  There was entirely to many “I agree” prefaces to starting their answers.

The thing that struck me the most is that neither one has a clear understanding of the economic situation, what is going on with the financial system because of their commitments to a bailout nor do they really want to end the war.

John McCain did say he wanted to cut spending but that will never happen because the bailout he is committed to will eat every penny they cut somewhere else.  If by a miracle the bailout does not get approved then only time will tell but I have little faith in his commitment to actually make meaningful cuts.

I was kind of surprised that I did not space off Barack Obama tonight.  It definitely helped that he left the “change” word at home.  Other than that he did not really say anything new or interesting to catch my interest.

What did you think about the debate?

September 22, 2008

If You Read Nothing Else This Week, Read This!

Posted in The Economy at 9:01 pm by thevoicesofstuart

By Peggy Schlichter

After emailing Iowa’s Senators and District 5 Representative this morning about the farce they are trying to perpetrate on the american people I realized that they are so caught up in the fight to be hero’s that they have completely missed the point.  Just to many people have no idea about how economics are suppose to work.  Just to many people have no idea what government is suppose to be for.  Every taking head on the tv rattles on and on about how badly the world will suffer if the government does not bailout the financial system.

Well frankly I say let them suffer for their own mistakes.  After all, they made them.  Not the poor schmo who was lead down the garden path to destruction.  If the government really wanted to help people they would  demand that every predatory loan be refinanced to a 30 or 40 year fixed rate allowing homeowners the chance of keeping their homes before handing out the first penny of help.  Then they should make it illegal for the financial community including the Federal Reserve to play russian roulette with interest rates.  Let the market set the rate…..period.  It would be a difficult messy affair but in terms of time and damage to the country it would be far less in the long run than the path they are persuing.

Of course this will not happen.  The government is locked into saving the day without realizing that they are going to extend the destruction on much longer than need be.  It will put the nail in the coffin of the dollar as the world’s reserve currency.  It will trigger staggering inflation and wipe out the middle class.  It will leave a staggering bill for generations to come.

Read an outsiders look at what is happening and think about the consequences.

September 19, 2008

Open Forum For The Weekend

Posted in General at 12:26 pm by thevoicesofstuart

By Peggy Schlichter

While sitting here this morning reading the news I was thinking about writing another post about the state of the economy and the implications of the ongoing bailouts that keep popping up.  The more I thought about it the more I realized that if I tried to write about it I would only get madder and have to resort to a first draft that contained every bad word I know.  Then the multiple lengthy re-editing that would eventually result in a postable article sometime in the next couple of weeks defeating the intention of having something up for the weekend.

It would also distract me from several things I need to get done today.  Namely working on the mess in the garage which I have blown off this morning and finish cleaning out a closet that is more of a hiding place than a closet.

So here is what I propose.  If there is a topic already up you wish to comment on go for it.  If you wish to raise a new topic use this one to get it started and we will see where it goes.

September 17, 2008

Happy Constitution Day!

Posted in General at 9:49 am by thevoicesofstuart

This site has multiple ways to view and read the Constitution.

Here is another great site for facts about the Constitution.

September 16, 2008

Agenda, Special Meeting, City Council (Updated)

Posted in Council Meetings at 11:01 pm by thevoicesofstuart

Here is the agenda for the Wednesday night special council meeting.

Agenda, Special Meeting, City Council


The council met and passed a two week extension for the speedways liquor license.

September 13, 2008

New and Old Business

Posted in Council Meetings at 4:06 pm by thevoicesofstuart

By Peggy Schlichter

New Business

Mr. O’keefe asked what to know the time an individual had from the date they received a mowing notice until it had to be mowed.  Robert responded with the individual gets 10 days to remedy the situation before fines take effect.

Old Business

There is a action advancing through the system from the homeowners south of the interstate challenging the wind turbine that NAPA is planning to install.  This is just a challenge of an administrative procedure.  It does not effect the city’s codes or zoning.

Police Department

Posted in Council Meetings at 3:53 pm by thevoicesofstuart

By Peggy Schlichter

Robert introduced new officer Martin Miller to the council.

He informed the council that he has contacted a company to do some cleanup for the city on 5 properties for around $3,500.  This is scaled back because the original work came in a around $13 K.

Mr. Waddell asked if they have checked, double checked proper notification and procedures because he did not want to the property owners coming in disputing the assessment because the proper procedures were  not followed.   Robert informed the council that certified letters were sent and the signed receipts were on hand at city hall.  Mr. Waddell stated that he is assuming that we are assessing these owner and that every thing procedurally has been done correctly.  There had better not be three people in here next month saying they are not paying this because procedures were not followed.  Robert responded with no matter if all the procedures are followed there will always be someone coming into complain.  Mr. Waddell stated complaining is fine but as long as we have the documentation in order we can make the argument that the assessment stands.  Robert stated that all the documentation is complete and available.

Mr. O’keeffe stated that he wanted to make sure that this was being done fairly and not picking on anyone more than others.  Robert assured them that they were not picking on any one property owner.

Mr. Belden asked about how he decided on which ones to be cleaned up first, was it the cost or what.  Robert stated that it is the larger concentrations of Junk, junk vehicles and hazardous waste.  One property has 15 to 20 55 gallon drums of unknown liquid alone.

Mr. Belden asked again how it was decided to start with these properties.  What is the rules we are playing by.  Mr. Bump stated that some towns do it by quadrants each year some do it by criteria as long as you have a system in place.  Mr. Waddell stated as long as you have them all identified you do not have to do them all at once.  That way when someone says hey what about this property over here we can say that it has been identified and their turn is coming.

Robert informed the council that on November 13th, 2007 they approved hiring Officer Larson with a starting salary of $32,400. with a pay hike of $600. when he established residency.  He has now established residency and request that you approve the pay increase.

Robert requested that the council approve the hiring of a 4th officer.  He is certified and currently in Iraq.  He will be available to start on November 8th at a salary of $32 K.  Fingerprint and background checks are complete.  His name is Bradley Wendt.

Mr. Belden then presented a new proposal to structure the pay for the police department.  Mr. Ashour asked why he was trying to do this now.  Mr. Waddell stated that he tried to do this not to long ago and it was voted down.  Mr. Belden responded with yes and the reason he did not vote for it was because we did not have any type of framework to look at when we had 3 officers or 4 officers.  This is a formalized approach to that.  Mr. Ashour stated that everything has changed since then.  Now you are changing the new officers money.  How much are you going to pay when things change again.  Mr. Belden stated that the only difference from what you looked at before is that Officer Hrubetz was closer to the chief than what our new officers are.  I think that Robert warrants that $42.5 K salary in my opinion.  The difference is from what we were paying Ron before and what we are bringing the new officer in on.  Mr. Sherman stated that you are also bringing Officer Larson’s pay to $35 K when he is at $33 K now.  Mr. Ashour stated that you already make $39 k and you and everybody have already had a raise.  Now you have increased everyone already for next year and any new officers.  Mr. Belden stated that this is more of a retention incentive for a year from now.  Mr. Sherman stated that there is nothing there for if a person is already certified or not.  Mr. Ashour stated that there is no reason to really be talking about this now.  We have done the increases for the year and this does not even consider the differences in qualifications of new hires.  What are you even asking for.  Mr. Sherman asked what are you starting the new officer at.  Robert responded that he is starting at $30 K because he is not certified.  The certified guy is at $32 K.  Mr. Ashour stated that when he gets certified and you don’t give him a bump in pay he will leave.  Then where are you at.  Robert stated that he will not be certified until after July 1st of next year.  Mr. Ashour stated that under this I have to give him a $2 K raise when he is certified.  How do you justify that.  If you think an officer deserves more make a motion and give it to him.  Don’t be playing around with everyone elses salaries trying to shift the money.

Motions were made and passed to hire Bradley Wendt at $32 K a year to start on November 8th with residency established within 6 months and to approve the $600 increase for Officer Larson.

Aquatic Center Project

Posted in Council Meetings at 2:27 pm by thevoicesofstuart

By Peggy Schlichter

Mr. Sherman called the public hearing open.

I addressed the council about the difference between the want of an aquatic center and the need for a aquatic center.  The aquatic center will be used three months out of the year.  You have spent most of this meeting talking about all these other projects you are looking for money for.  All along every meeting I have attended you have acknowledged the possibility that you could not go forward with this project because of the other infrastructure needs of the city.  I am asking you to remember that tonight during your discussions.  And to remember the difference between a want and a need.

There were no other comments presented at the hearing and it closed.

Mr. Aldrich informed the council that two bids were received.  The base bid from Oak View Construction out of Red Oak, Iowa was for $2.250 M and the base bid from Rachon Corportation was $2.4 M.  On the alternate bid for a deduction for extending the completion date.  Both felt that they could complete the project but Rachon offered a $25 K deduct.  On alternate two. the parking area on the west side to upgrade it from gravel to concrete, with a bid of $6,200 from Oak View and $6,900 from Rachon Corp.

Mr. Aldrich talked to Rachon and they do not do their own mechanical work and they sub it out.  They only received one bid for the piping and mechanicals.  That was for around $500 K which is a huge number.  We do not think that is a very competitive number.

We plotted this bid out compared to other projects to establish a trend line and this bid is way above the trend line.  Every other project is scattered around the trend line and this is not.  We just had another bid come in for a project in Missouri that is located about a half hour from a major metropolitan area even had dirt and rock excavation and it came in at around $1.8 M.  There is no identifiable reason to justify the bed numbers.  A lot of the contractors who typically bid pools and we were expecting to bid did not bid on this.  When those other contractors were contacted they stated that they were already booked with work during this time frame.

Comparing Oak View to previous bids they are not normally the low bidder.  They are usually somewhere in the middle of the pack.  If there were more bidders there is a greater possibility for lower bids.  There is also the possibility that the timing is working against you.

That was Thursday and between then and tonight we talked to Oak View and the pool committee about what we could do to reduce the cost.  The letter from Oak View lists some deducts that add up to about $380 K from the project.  Mr. Waddell stated that leaves us with just a swimming pool and nothing else.  Mr. Aldrich agreed.  He further stated that he went through the list with the pool committee and they came up with about $180 K of what they were willing to give up not the whole $380 K worth.

There are still some other things the pool committee wants to look at like making the pool smaller and other things that they thought they needed to get better numbers on.  We are looking at having another meeting with the pool committee in the next week or so to see if we can come up with some other ideas to reduce the project.

Mr. Aldrich stated that he did not think that they can get all the way there in reducing the cost down to the $1.72 M that we have.

Mr. Waddell stated that it appears that ours odds go down greatly for a better bid if we wait.  Mr. Aldrich stated that if we wait we really have several options.  One is that we can table the bid and let the committee work on reducing the features but we should not table it for longer than two to three weeks at the most.  You would not want to wait for your next council meeting to make a decision because then we will have lost a whole month of construction and the bids are only good for 30 days.  Your next regular meeting will be 5 weeks.  So that is one option to table until a special meeting in a couple of weeks.

The other option is to reject all bids and rebid the project assuming there are no huge changes.  In rebidding it there are two options to look at.  One is to rebid in February and the contractors start in March loosing the pool season next year.  The second option is to wait and rebid in July and the contractor is ready to start as soon as pool season is over.

The risk for waiting is that the construction prices go up about 7% a year.  By waiting to rebid next year you have to understand the cost will go up around 7% on average.  The other risk is that we rebid next year and do not get any more bidders again plus the tacked on 7%.  That puts you right back where you started or worse.  On the other hand V&K has been involved in other projects where they rebid 6 to 9 months later and the bids come down dramatically just because there were more people interested, economy changed, whatever.  I do not have a recommendation for you on whether to wait or not because it is really a gamble.  Looking at the numbers we think they are really higher than they should be compared to other projects.  But there is no guarantee that if you rebid it you will see lower bids.

Mr. Waddell stated that the problem he has is with this bid we spend $1.7 M and get no more than what we have now, a pool.  We already have a swimming pool just with out all the slides and stuff.  Mr. Aldrich agreed and stated that even with $180 K of deductions the pool committee was willing to come up with there is still a long ways to go and what I guess I am really trying to say is I do not see them getting all the way there.

Mr. O’keeffe asked when you talked to the ones who did not bid did you ask them how long they were booked til.  Mr. Aldrich did not have an answer but he stated that even if you rebid it now with a start date next august you run into problems with contractors because then they are not sure of their costs between now and the start time.  So you try to bid close to the time of when you want to start work to avoid that.  The better way is to bid it in June/July with a start date in September.  That is more reasonable.

Mr. Waddell asked if it was possible to rebid with a completion date of the beginning of the 2010 swim season with not caveats on the start date.  If they have an opening next summer or fall bid it.   Mr. Aldrich stated that if you are willing to let them start in march and lose the swim season then yes we can bid it in January you can start in March and you have until.  Mr. Belden asked if he thought that would bring more bidders to the table.  Mr. Aldrich stated that it provided a lot more leeway for the contractors to look at their schedules with.  The potential is there.  Whether is comes true or not you never know.

Mr. Waddell stated that he thought that the way we bid it restricted the time line to much.

Mr. Belden asked if there are other things that we could gain by giving the committee more time to find ways to cut it back.  Mr. Aldrich stated that the pool committee brought up some other ideas this afternoon and we were not able to research any of those before the meeting so there could be other things that we can do, I just do not know yet.  The best recommendation I can give to you is to give me some time to get back with the pool committee and research some of these things before you reject the bids.  The point being is that if the number is not more than $1.7 M then I do not know that we can get there.

Mr. Waddell stated that he did not think that the $1.7 M number was absolute.

Mr. Sherman stated that he thought they were going about it the wrong way.  That this is turning out like the bath house did.  It was way overpriced and now they are just taking things away again.  Now we have a overpriced swimming pool and if we rebid it as just a pool maybe we will get more bidders.  We would have a lot less mechanicals.

Mr. Crawford stated that some of the things they talked about was not having a aquatic center just a better pool.  They talked about taking out the drop slide.  Doing the pipes a different way.  Doing away with the shade for now.  There were some frills and extras we can take out and not necessarily make it an aquatic center any more.  May be a toddler slide instead of a family slide.   Some of the concrete surround can be reduced.  Reducing the number of spray features.  He stated further that their original thoughts were to put everything in and see what they could realistically get with the bids.  Mr. Sherman stated that even with all the extra frills we put in there we were still expecting it to come up to $1.7 M because of other projects and estimates that were considered during planning and we are way over that.  If you are talking about cutting all this stuff out and getting it down we should still rebid it.  He did not agree that they should just give Oak View a bland check just because we cut all this stuff out.

Mr. Waddell asked how much the city would save if they do not open the pool next summer.  Mr. Ashour stated between $30 to 40 K.

Mr. Belden stated that the pool committee is very committed to not losing a pool season.  Mr. Waddell stated that if we can go to the pool committee and tell them that we can get everything they want within budget but you lose a season he thought that they would agree.

Mr. Aldrich stated that you can still table it and reject the bid at a special meeting.  Just because you table it does not mean you have to accept the contract.  If you reject all bids you should not just turn around and rebid it.  Mr. Sherman stated that they needed to figure out why the bids came in so high.  Mr. Aldrich stated that if you want to rebid this looking for more contractors the earliest time will be this coming spring.  If you rebid it in October you are asking a contractor to fixes his prices between now and next spring.  January/February is a better time.

Mr. Belden asked how this will effect their short term borrowing.  Mr. Schultz stated that as long as you know the costs by next June it doesn’t.  Mr. Aldrich stated that the $300 K USDA loan will also expire.  Mr. Crawford stated that that will cause an increase of about $150 K in interest costs over the life of the loan.  Mr. Waddell asked when the contract has to be set to keep the USDA loan.  Mr. Belden stated early next spring.

A motion was made and passed to table items 5. B, C, and D to allow Mr. Aldrich and the pool committee to research the design and see what they could come up with.  Mr. Ashour stated that they could call a special meeting as soon as he hears from the committee to readdress the issue.  Mr. Belden asked if it was possible to just move the regular meeting forward a week and not have a special meeting.  Mr. Ashour stated that was possible.  Mr. Aldrich stated that that was still to far out because of the extra week in September.  He proposed September 22nd.

Mr. Aldrich informed the council that the meeting with the pool committee will take place either at the end of the week or beginning of the next week.  Mr. Waddell stated that they needed to have the meeting immediately after the committee meets.  Mr. Crawford asked what happens if we do not make a decision before their next meeting.   Mr. Aldrich stated that the contractor can withdraw their bids after 30 days but he does not have to.  We can talk to him and see if they are willing to let them stand for a while longer.  Mr. Crawford asked what happens if neither the contractor or the council takes any actions.  Mr. Aldrich stated that he supposed that it would stay tabled until someone takes an action.  If you decide not to have a meeting what you are really deciding is that you are rejecting all the bids.

Architectuaral Agreement Approved For New City Building

Posted in Council Meetings at 11:38 am by thevoicesofstuart

By Peggy Schlichter

Mr. Ashour asked the council to approve the Architectural Agreement to proceed with the plans for the new city building for the Library, City Hall and Police Station.

Mr. O’Keeffe asked what the status was on whether one of the water storage tanks can be removed or not.  Mr. Ashour stated that he did not know the answer that the mayor was handling the matter through the insurance company.  (NOTE:  the mayor was not in attendance for this meeting.)  Mr. Ashour stated that he would get with the mayor for the answer and get back to them.

Mr. Aldrich informed the council that with the tank sitting behind the library and the open space between the two city buildings can be removed the new building can be built where the library is now without having to remove the city hall until after construction is complete.  The city hall can function in place during construction.  If the tank cannot be removed then the new building becomes more “L” shaped around the tank and then both the library and city hall must be taken out for construction.  In that instance both activities must be relocated during construction.  We can do either option but we were not looking at doing both designs then figuring out which one.  We need you to figure out the tank then we will start doing the design of the building.

Mr. O’Keeffe stated that we really have to know about the tank before you get started.  Mr. Aldrich stated yes because the the tank being there or not changes almost everything as far as layout, doors, parking.

Mr. Belden asked if the insurance says it can go we need to decide if we want or need to keep it or not.  Mr. Sherman stated that it was the Utility Board who needs to decide that and they have stated that they want to keep it.  Mr. Aldrich stated that he has spoken with Mr. Christensen and that his primary concern is with the insurance rates.  The answer to the insurance rates is what is going to influence the Utility Board as well.

Mr. Ashour asked if that was going to slow us from moving on at this point.  Mr. Aldrich stated no but he does not want to start having meetings with the staff on what the rooms are going to look like without knowing the answer about the tank.  Mr. Ashour stated that he would get with the mayor tomorrow and see where she is on getting the answer on this.

Mr. Aldrich informed the council that this agreement is with Baldwin and White not with V&K.  He wanted to make sure that they are clear on that.  V&K will be the engineering sub contractor of this for Baldwin and White.  Since this is an architectural project and we do not have architects at V&K it is our recommendation because of previous work with them.  Mr. Dan Sloan will be the architect and do the meetings to determine the layouts for the project.  There will be times that he is here to present information and answer questions and I will not be.

Mr. Waddell asked if they are the city’s architect.  Did we choose them.  Mr. Aldrich stated that V&K is recommending them to the council.

Mr. Belden asked if we run into problems with the bid do we have the option to redraw the plans at no extra cost.  Mr. Aldrich stated that if the changes require a major redesign of the building that causes mechanical and structural systems to be redrawn then yes there will be charges.  If it is just some minor modifications then rebidding it there is not.  Mr. Belden stated that he did not want to get into the same problem they had with the bath house of every time they changed something they got billed.

A motion was make and passed to approve the architectural agreement with Baldwin and White.

Sanitary Sewer For New High School

Posted in Council Meetings at 10:53 am by thevoicesofstuart

By Peggy Schlichter

At the joint meeting with the school board Mr. Aldrich was asked to look at the city’s options and cost to provide a sanitary sewer connection to the new high school.

Mr. Aldrich informed the council that manhole they have to go from is north of and between the vet clinic and  the church and run it east to the church property.  At that point we have two options.  If we can get permission from the church we can continue east to the school which is the shortest distance to the school.  Mr. Belden stated that he spoke to the church board and they stated that they could cross the property as long as it stays in the gas line easement but he did not know where that was.  Mr. Aldrich stated that it is close but that the gas line goes even further south and curves.  Mr. Aldrich asked if they were okay with going somewhere not on the gas easement.  Mr. Belden stated that that was the only proposal they made.  The rough cost to go straight east across the church property is $100 k to the property line.

The second option is to go south to Front Street then go east on the north side.  That is around $120 k to take it to the property line.  To go from the property line to the school is another $20 to 25 k.

There are several ways to pay for this.  You can raise sewer rates.  You can use a assessment and connection fee and assess the school for a portion of it which could then be paid for over 10 years much like you did on N. Division Street.  You could set up a connect fee district where the portion that the school does not front and if someone builds along Front Street you get reimbursed for that.  Mr. Belden asked how big of a fee base are you talking about.  Mr. Aldrich stated that it depends on what is built there.  If someone builds a house on a small lot it would be different that someone who wants to builds business.  Mr. Sherman pointed out that it could also be used as a point to negotiate if a business wanted to build out there.

Mr. Waddell asked if someone builds a house now is there a connection fee.  Mr. Aldrich stated there is but it is different from the one he is talking about.

The council discussed the difference in the two options.  One being that if they do get permission to run it across the church property it becomes a one hook up line and that is it.  If they go down front street it provides for possible new development in the area.

Mr. Crawford stated that they needed to give the school some idea of how much we are planning to give them on this and what the numbers are.  We have kind of round numbers on this.  Mr. Sherman stated that what they needed to do was say that we would run it to the property line and then their cost is what it takes them to get it to the school.  Mr. Waddell stated that they need how far we are going to take it and to know where we are going to take it to.  We are saying property line but where on the property line.  Mr. Belden stated that we should just say the property line and we will figure out where.  Mr. Waddell pointed out that it changes their dollars a lot.  Going across the church property is a lot closer for them than from Front Street.  Mr. Belden pointed out that for planning purposes they could figure the costs from both places until we get this figured out.

Mr. Sherman stated that the most likely place would be the edge of the property line on front street that way it leaves up options to do whatever we need to do in the future.  Mr. Waddell stated that they should assume that is where it is going to go.

Mr. Crawford asked if they wanted to tell the school anything.  Do we want to say that we are only going to pay for it to the property line.  Mr. Sherman stated that we should tell them that we are going to bring it to the front edge of the property line.

When asked if the city was going to assess the school a connection fee they were told that they were not leaning that way.

September 11, 2008

Storm Sewer On N. 2nd Street

Posted in Council Meetings at 3:28 pm by thevoicesofstuart

By Peggy Schlichter

The storm sewer that comes from uptown and N. Division Street and runs under the school needs to be moved before construction begins.  The storm sewer is up line from the problems being experienced at Harlan Street.  Mr. Aldrich was asked at the joint meeting to look at both problems to see what the best options were to accommodate both.

Mr. Aldrich informed the council that there are two options for consideration.  Option one is to close the storm sewer that runs under the school and run it south to the north side of 2nd Street turn it east for one block then turn it north and reconnect it to the existing line.  Then at the outlet line replace it with larger pipe to make it capable of handling the volume of outflow.

The second option includes closing the storm sewer under the building and run it south to the north side of 2nd Street and run a new line all the way down to N. Harlan and connecting it to a larger outlet pipe.  It also includes changing the beehive size on the Snell property.

He informed the council that the problem there is that the outflow pipe is not large enough to handle the volume of water funneled there.  Once the capacity maxes out the water back fills and overflows the existing lines and creates a large pond on the Snell property and continues to back up until outlets are found causing puddling.  No matter which option they choose the outflow pipe at Harlan Street needs to be up sized to handle the flow.

Under option one the existing line remains the primary carrier for storm water by circling the block around the planned construction of the addition to the school.

Option two removes the uptown and N. Division Street water to a new separate line and leaves the old line there to collect water from the north.

He informed that council that he had not determined the correct size of the outflow pipe yet.

The real decision to make is at the corner of 2nd and Sherman do you go north with it or east with it.  The outflow must be changed in both options.  There is a difference of about 160 feet between option one and two with two being the longer line.

Option one is cheaper but the question that comes into play is how much water the old pipe can handle.  Mr. Airhart informed the council that the same amount of water will be running in the existing line and they will still have the same amount of puddling as a result.

Mr. Sherman asked if there was a problem behind the school of puddling with the existing line.  Mr. Airhart stated that yes that is definitely a problem and there was water running into the school because of it.  After all the lower intakes backed up the problem followed the line further west continuing to back up intakes.  That is what caused all the flooding into the school.

Mr. Waddell stated that option two was better because it relieved the pressure on the old line.  Mr. Sherman agreed that was the better long term option and asked about the the roof drains on the school and where they would go to when they are taken out of the sanitary sewer.  Mr. Airhart informed them that roof drains on the old part will go into the existing storm line and off of the new part they will go into the new line.

The estimated cost of option one without finalizing the pipe sizes needed is around $216 k.  Option two has not been estimated yet because Mr. Aldrich has not had enough time to properly survey the route and determine the line and drive crossings or the road crossing.

Mr. Waddell asked Mr. Ashour have he was planning on paying for this.  Mr. Ashour informed the council that Mr. Aldrich has been tasked with doing a rate survey for the new water treatment plant scheduled for construction next year.  The study is to determine what the rates need to be to support the maintenance of the new treatment plant.  He thought that this could be included in the study.  Mr. Waddell countered with he did not think that this change in a 4 block area should be included in rates for the whole town.  Mr. Sherman stated that that storm line drains a lot more that just that 4 blocks of town.  Mr. Ashour stated that it should be included in the study.  Mr. Aldrich stated that even with the grants for the waste water treatment plant there is about $500 k still needed to finish the funding.  You will have to look at adjusting the sewer rate to accommodate that.  Mr. Ashour asked the council if they agreed to have this project included in the rate study.  Mr. Waddelll stated that before he agreed he wanted to know the time line on the study.  Mr. Aldrich asked when they thought the construction on the new addition for the elementary school would begin.  Would it be this fall or in the spring.  The best estimate from the cost management group was the spring to begin construction.  Mr. Waddell stated that that still did not answer his question.  When will be ready to do this project.  Mr. Ashour stated as soon as Mr. Aldrich completes the study.

Mr. Aldrich stated that it was his impression that the study would take place this winter but if they wanted it moved up he did not see a problem with that.  Mr. Waddell asked if this project would be for this year or next spring.  Mr. Aldrich stated that it would not happen until next spring.

Mr. Crawford raised the question of keeping the School informed about the line and what they are planning to do.  Mr. Airhart asked if they would like to him to go and talk to Dr. Arnold and let him know about their plans and the timing on the project.  The council agreed that he should do that.

Mr. Ashour asked the council to incorporate item 8, the sanitary sewer to the new school into the study also.   Mr. Sherman asked if Mr. Aldrich had the numbers for the options for item 8.  Mr. Aldrich stated he did and that discussion will be covered under a separate post.  The decision was make to add this project to the study also.

New Hire Approved For The Rescue Unit

Posted in Council Meetings at 11:25 am by thevoicesofstuart

By Peggy Schlichter

Rescue Director Jeff Howard informed the council that the Rescue Board has approved the hiring of a new paramedic specialist.

There were three responses to the hiring ad with none interested in moving to Stuart nor were they satisfied with the $35 k annual salary.  Mr. Howard informed the council that the problem in Dallas County and West Des Moines are hiring paramedic specialists now and they are paying more a year than we are offering.  They are in such close proximity that we cannot compete.  The Rescue Board has determined that there is not enough money in their budget to support that salary level.  There is a high demand for paramedic specialists in Iowa and there are not enough out there to fill the need.  Therefore the board has decided to hire Kelly Surber who is currently in the department at the EMTI level which is the level below paramedic specialist.  The agreement for the hire is that he goes throught he paramedic specialist course and with successful completion his salary will be raised to $35 k.  It will take about a year and a half to complete the course.  He has been accepted and started the course.  If he does not complete the course and become certified paramedic specialist he will be dismissed from his position with Stuart Rescue.

What this does for the city is to allow him to attend the daytime classes and then he will work the 4 to midnight shift.  This allows him to have an income while attending classes full time and allows greater service coverage for the city.  His salary and benefits is paid out of the Rescue budget and the city does not have to pay for any of his training.

Mr. Howard further informed the council that they have always paid for the initial training for anyone who wanted to join the rescue unit.  The paramedic specialist program costs $6 k a semester and requires 3 semesters to complete for a total of $18 k.  With financial aid and scholarships it knocks it down to about $6 k out of pocket expenses.  He is also in the military and they are going to help supplement his income while he is taking the course plus there is the possibility they will pay up to $3 k a semester.  If they don’t it is in our budget to cover that.   Additionally through the Guthrie County EMS Association and the State of Iowa we can apply for reimbursement for initial training.  Even if we have to pay the full amount for the class it will fall underneath the $35 k budgeted for the position over the course of the class.

Mr. Sherman asked what was the guarantee that he would not just complete the course and then leave to take a better paying job somewhere else.  Mr. Howard informed him that he has signed a 5 year contract and if he leaves before then the pay back is prorated.  This has all been approved by the Rescue Board over several meetings.

Mr. Ashour asked the council for a motion to approve the hire.

Mr. Waddell stated that he a concern that they were approving something that they had no knowledge of and after the fact of the hiring.  We had to approve your contract so why do we not have to approve Mr. Surber’s contract.  He was informed that they had to approve Mr. Howard’s contract because he was a director and the city pays his salary.  Mr. Surber’s contract is with the Rescue Board and they pay his salary.

He further stated that he had a problem with voting after the fact.  He has already quit his job, is working now and has already started school.  I really don’t like the process where we are asked to vote on something we had no prior knowledge of.  I have noting against the job you are doing I just do not like the process.  It is like a street contractor showing up last week and starting work because they assume we will approve the contract.  What is the difference.  I just do not like the process of voting on something that has already happened.  The council agreed that the concern should be looked at.

The motion was made and passed to approve the hire of Mr. Surber.

Mr. Ashour stated that he will talk to the Boards to provide earlier information to the council on any actions they want to take and have them recommend to the council that they approve the action prior to going forward with it.

Old Depot Restoration Contract Awarded

Posted in Council Meetings at 10:02 am by thevoicesofstuart

By Peggy Schlichter

Mr. Ashour informed the council that the IDOT had approved the contract for the restoration of the old depot.  The grant covers 80% of the project on a cost reimbursement basis.  Mrs. Doris Bench explained that IDOT oversight on the planning and contract approval to the council.  Mr. Ashour informed the council that the Hotel/Motel Tax grants were available to pay for the work and the IDOT has been refunding the money on completed work usually within 30 days.  The 20% not covered by the grant has already been raised and is on hand to ensure project completion.

The council voted to approve the contract.

September 10, 2008

2008 Street Improvements Approved

Posted in Council Meetings at 10:04 pm by thevoicesofstuart

By Peggy Schlichter

During an approxiamately 35 minute discussion the council moved quickly on several items.  There were no objections or speakers at the public hearing on  the proposed plans for the 2008 street improvements.  The resolutions was passed to adopt the plans, specifications and form a contract, fix the amount of the contract and, convert the short term bond for N. Division Street to long term debt and approved the signing of the letter of intent for Ruan Securities to handle the debt.

Mr. Aldrich informed the council that there were two bids recieved for the street project with about a $21 k difference in the two.  The council the turned there efforts to determining how to pay for the project.  Mr. Schultz from Ruan Securities informed the council that there was enough money in the road use tax recieved each year to have two options for the council to discuss.  One option was to fund the project using $60 k of the road use tax.  The second option was to fund the project using $75 k of the road use tax.

Mr. Waddell asked how much the city recieved annually in road use tax.  He was informed by Mr. Ashour that it averages around $140 k a year.  Mr. Sherman asked if wages were paid out of that,  Mr. Ashour informed him that wages were paid out of the general fund.

Mr. Crawford stated that if we do not do this one big project we will just be doing one smaller project every year.  Mr. Waddell asked if we budget $60 k a year to do streets.  He was informed that we spend more than that each year just to get done as much as they can.  We usually spend $100 to 120 K a year on street projects.  Mr. Waddell asked if all but about $20 k a year was spent on doing streets.  Mr. Airhart stated, well yes.  With everything we do asphalt and seal coat it adds up to $100 to 120 k a year.

Mr. Belden asked is we had a soft winter and have some extra money can we pay this thing down or off.  Mr. Schultz stated that you cannot pay it off or down until 2014.  When asked why he stated that bond purchasers need to know that the interest will be steady for the initial years to have them interested enough to purchase the bonds.  After 2014 you may pay the debt down or off.

Mr. Ashour recommended to the council that they go with the $60 k option so that there is more available money in the road use tax to take care of other street problems that may arise during the length of the bond.  Mr. Sherman stated that that was his concern.  Mr. Waddell asked what about the other stuff that comes out of that money.  Mr. Ashour stated that equipment upkeep and replacement costs, equipment purchase debt and supplies come from that money also.  He also informed the council that if you go with the $75 k option you will run the risk of not having enough money to pay for everything and do any needed projects.

Mr. Waddell stated that this means that we will go 12 years on half a budget.  Do we really want to do this.  Mr. Ashour stated that we exhaust the budget every year and do not get all the streets fixed that need to be done.  By doing this we get pretty much caught up on fixing the bad streets and still have money to handle any new streets that need fixing.  Mr. Waddell stated that he was concerned that in 5 years what are the other streets going to look like and how are we going to fix them then.  He then asked what the life expectancy is on a paved street.  Mr. Aldrich stated that for a asphalt street it was 10 to 15 years.  Mr. Waddell stated that means that by the time we pay for this it will be time to pay for it again.  Mr. Airhart stated that that is where we are at now.  Mr. Waddell then asked what about the ones done 5 years ago or later and only have 5 years left on them.  Mr. Airhart stated that we would still have money in the fund to fix additional street as they need it.  Mr. Waddell stated that you so not seem overly concerned about this.  Mr. Airhart stated that he is concerned that if we don’t get these fixed now we are just going to keep falling into that bigger hole.  Every year it is just going to get bigger and bigger.  The two dump trucks are in decent shape and should last another 7 or 8 years.  The sander on the back of the truck one maybe two more years on it because it is steel and we should have bought stainless steel.  Mr. Sherman stated that his concern is that we do this and in eitht years we have to spend another $800 k to do it again.  Mr. Airhart stated that he looks at it this way.  Every year we spend $100 to 120 k anyway plus everything else and look at where we are.  Mr. Sherman stated that he was not comfortable with the length of the debt and wanted to know if there were any other options.  Mr. Schultz stated you could always levy for the project.  The council did not want to do that stating that was something that they wanted to avoid if at all possible.

Mr. Belden asked if this fund or the road use tax fluctuates every year.  Mr. Ashour stated that the state determines the amount per capita based on road use.  Mr. Airhart stated that the state just finished their survey but had not posted the results online yet.  That was the 18 little boxes around town that counted traffic.

Mr. Crawford pointed out that we could use TIF one year if we needed to do something more than what we had available.  Mr. Schultz stated that they should not count on using TIF if at all possible.

Mr. Ashour stated that if you want to get that project going then you should go with the $60 k option.

The discussion then went on about the difference in the two options as far as length of debt and interest paid.  Mr. Ashour pointed out that even with the advantages of the $75 k option in those areas they would be strapping the ability of the remaining money to cover the other needs of the operation.

While there was some other discussion on the options of not doing Harlan street or Adair Steet it was decided that it was best to just get everything done.

The council then decided to go with the $60 k a year option for 12 years.

The public hearing is set for October 13th at the next regular council meeting.

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