October 28, 2008

(Update 2) Community Cultural Center Update

Posted in City News at 9:07 pm by thevoicesofstuart

By Peggy Schlichter

As long as the crane is working, the wind is not blowing to strongly, it does not rain or any other misalignment they are going to raise the dome into place tomorrow at 11 am.



The crane has arrived and the latest word is they will be ready to lift around 10:30 am.


Update 2

The lift of the dome base was a success and went off without a hitch.  It was lifted, placed and welded onto the support structure yesterday.


October 15, 2008

Hotel/Motel Tax Committee Denies Grant To Depot Committee

Posted in Council Meetings at 4:57 pm by thevoicesofstuart

and Depot Committee Update

Of Note:  Mr. Sherman was not in attendance for this council meeting.

By  Peggy Schlichter

Mr. Tom Foy acting for the Hotel/Motel Tax Committee recommended that the Depot Restoration Committee be denied a $6k grant to purchase period style and colored bricks that match the existing building to continue the restoration and the $20k annual grant for the matching funds.  The reasons stated by Mr. Foy were an incomplete application, a detailed history of the project was not provided specifically how the previous $20k given was used, no time line on where this project is and projected completion, projection of a total cost of the project and means of how those costs will be met, no projection for the operating costs of the facility and how they will be met, concern about the increased railroad activity and what the city’s liability will be, concerns about increased insurance costs when completed, a lack of an estimated economic impact statement on the effect on the community as a whole, a lack of an estimated impact on tourism to Stuart as suggested by the impact study done on similar projects.  The committee was also concerned about the lack of other fund raising done to help defray restoration costs.  The other projects we have recommended have shown a wider base of support indicated by the greater amounts raised privately.  It may be that they have other fund raising activities but they were not indicated on the application.  Based on these reasons we do not recommend that you fund this request.

Mr. O’keeffe stated that this recommendation is based on lack of information.  Mr. Foy stated yes.

Mr. Waddell asked what was incomplete on the application.  Mr. Foy stated those things that I just mentioned.

Mr. Crawford asked how have we been going about deciding on funding for the project up to now.  Mr. Belden stated that there was a $20k H/M Tax commitment to get the $100k T21 reimbursable grant.  Mr. Ashour stated that you have already approved the $20k grant.

Mr. Belden asked what needs to be changed on this for it to be acceptable.  Mr. Foy stated that they needed to get these things together that I previously talked about.

He then asked how much H/M Tax money was left.  Mr. Ashour stated that there was just at $20k left.  Mr. Waddell asked if there were any other applications for the money.  Mr. Foy stated not at this time.  Others have talked to the committee but have not submitted applications yet.

Mr. Belden asked if they go back and get the information will it make the application acceptable or not.  Mr. Foy stated yes, these are the concerns we have.  Once we get the information we will have to review it.

Mr. Ashour asked the council if they were ready to make a motion to grant the $20k that is usually granted annually for the reimbursable T21 grant.  Mr. Waddell asked what the $20K was for.  The mayor explained that the council has been approving the $20k each year so the city has the money to pay the matching money.  It is really two motions on this issue.  The $20k for matching money for the T21 grant and the $6k for the bricks.

Mr. Belden proposed that they hold off until they heard from Mrs. Bench who was #6 on the agenda.

A motion was made and passed to table the issue until #6 was discussed.


Depot Committee Update with continued discussion of H/M Tax grant.

Mrs. Doris Bench addressed the committee stating that the request for the $6k grant was necessary because the architect just located a source for the needed bricks that are the approximate shape, size, color and age of the ones that need to be replaced.  I heard Mr. Foy’s concerns about the city’s liability with the building being so close the the railroad tracks.  That has all been covered by the architect and railroad.  There is going to be a temporary fence put up.  It will be in place before they start working on that side of the building.  Sergants Construction Company has a $1.5M insurance policy which covers liability and allows the project to proceed.  It also covers damage to any railroad damage if it should occur.

The mayor asked if a permanent fence will have to be put up at some point.  Mr. Bench stated that there will be a permanent fence in the future but it was the committees determination that the existing grant money be applied directly to the building restoration at this point.

As to the committee not raising as much money as other projects she informed the council that this is not as large a project as the others.  We did not ask for a bond issue to cover the costs of the restoration.  We have not asked for any property tax or TIF funds for the project.  What we did was apply and receive the most favorable grant for the project.  It is a T21 80/20 matching grant.

Mr. Waddell asked what about some of the other concerns raised such as a detailed history of the project, how the other $20k was spent.  Mrs. Bench stated that the $20k was the match money for the T21 grant.  The precautions are very strict and there are stringent checks in the approved plan on exactly what the grant money can be spent on.  These checks are in place to make sure that both the city and the state are protected from the money being misspent.

The mayor stated that the H/M Tax Committee does not have a million dollar fund and their concern is continually giving money and being the only source of matching money for the project and we do not know if the project will even get finished.  That is part of their biggest concern.  And then the city needs to look at how they are going to maintain that building after it is completed.

Mrs. Bench asked the mayor is she was talking as the mayor or as a member of the H/M Tax Committee.  The mayor stated kind of both.  Mrs. Bench then asked if that was not a conflict of interest.  The mayor stated that she did not vote on the issue and you can ask everyone on that committee because I left before it was finished.  And I can step back and not attend the meetings and sit here as the mayor and voice the same concerns.   Mrs. Bench asked the mayor if she had the same concerns when you were allocating money for project restore.  How much money have they gotten.  The mayor stated that now you are talking about another project.  Mrs. Bench stated that it is the same situation.  There again when you sitting here giving $50k project restore were you certain that that project was going to be completed.  And what were you thinking about the income from that project in the future.  That is what you are asking for from us and the city has not even decided what they are going to use the building for yet.  There is no way for us to know what the income will be.  The mayor stated that based on the application they had a much longer term plan.  Mrs. Bench stated that she could give them a longer term plan but the city needs to tell me what they are going to use the building for or I can give them one whether it is true or not.

The mayor stated that this can be argued all night but the other projects have gotten money from additional places.  Mrs. Bench stated that they had too.  They have gotten funds from the Iowa Historical Society, from the Rock Island Technical Society, we have had fundraisers through selling commemorative books and papers.

Mr. Belden asked what she saw it being used as in the future.  Mrs. Bench stated that it could be used as an alternative to the town hall that is slowly crumbling away.

Mr. Crawford asked if there was a limit on the T21 money.  In other words if it costs a million dollars and we put if two hundred thousand the grant would cover it.  Mrs. Bench stated that as long as the use was approved that was true.  Mr. Crawford asked if there was a process that had to be approved each time that there is money put toward this.  He was informed yes that is correct.  He then asked if the $6k would mean that they would get additional money for the project.  Mrs. Bench stated no the $6k is separate from the T21 grant.  The reason they asked for the $6k separate is because the source of the bricks was just located.  Since they were located after the current grant was approved they are not covered as an authorized use of the grant money.  The money that is in place now can only be spent for what the bids were.  Everything now has been two years in the making.  If you have had any dealing with the IDOT who is overseeing the project you know that they are very slow and thorough.  Trying to amend the grant at this time will take 6 months.

Mr. Waddell stated that he would like to see the things that you already have be submitted to the H/M Tax Committee before we make a decision to give you the money.  I think that if you give that information to them and ask them to reconsider.  I would feel more comfortable doing that than just tonight saying we will give you $6k.  If those questions were answered and they still said no then I would ask them why.  It seemed like you had the answers to the questions I asked.  Then they would have to justify why they recommended not to fund the $6k.  I do not know what kind of time line you are on but this could be handled at the next meeting.  Mrs. Bench informed the council that the bricks are needed now in order to not hold up the renovation.  She further informed them that it was only a matter of luck that the architect found the right bricks as it was.  If we put in bricks that are not the same size, color and age the whole building will look like the south side that used non matching bricks.  That repair gave the south wall a patchwork look no one will be happy with and we will be stuck with the look.

Mr. Waddell stated that he thought that they could get the information to the committee fairly quickly and we are having another meeting pretty soon.  Mrs. Bench stated that there is a lot there that is guess work especially since the city has not decided on its use yet.  An estimate of the operating costs, when will the project be completed is entirely dependant on the needs of the next phase, the bids and the approval of those bids along with the local match.  That is why we broke the project up into $100k peices to keep the match inside of the $20k annual H/M Tax grant each year.  That guarantees that the city is not asked for more than the expected and planned amount.

Mr. Crawford stated that this is like a partnership then with matching money for the grant.  Mrs. Bench stated that the city already owns the depot so what the depot committee does is apply for grants that keep the project moving according to the approved plans.  The city has provided the $20k H/M Tax match money and $679. to board up the windows.  The city is bankrolling the CCC and Aquatic Center so as far as putting this off further it was not expected and will cause further delays.  The contractor is doing every thing they can to work around the problem now by taking out damaged bricks and reinstalling them with the inside face out.  Not getting the bricks now will delay the project.  That will put us in a position to lose the T21 grant money for not completing the construction on time.

Mr. Waddell asked if the bricks were included in the approved grant.  He was informed no because a source of the bricks was not found in time to include them and the committee had every expectation to reason that the H/M Tax money would be granted based on past support.  If the architect had gone back and requested a change in the grant to add the cost of the bricks the project would be delayed 6 months and he really did not want to do that.  The $6k is the cost of the bricks and the shipment of them to the site.

Mr. Crawford asked what type of communication was done with the H/M Tax Committee on this.  Mrs. Bench stated that they submitted the application and tried to contact several members of the committee.  Mr. Foy was the only one who responded.  When asked what was going on he told me that he thought it would be voted down because they did not think that we had not gone after enough other sources for funding and that in the foreseeable future they did not see any sources of revenue from the depot.  Mr. Crawford stated that he disagreed with the H/M Tax Committee on the use of that money to generate revenue.  He never viewed its use as a revenue generator.  There are certain purposes for helping with economic development.  It has been used for other projects that did not require revenue to be generated.  I think the city has shown commitment to this project before by giving H/M Tax money in the past.  I am concerned that there was not better communication between the two committees so that these issues could have been addressed before this meeting and gotten things hashed out so that we could have made a decision now.  To me it is a working project and you are showing your ability to raise grant money for the project.  I can’t disagree with the H/M Tax Committee with wanting a little more information as the project comes along especially as the amounts get larger.  But as far as a $6k request with no other projects on the table  and no other projects coming forward at this time I would like to see us go ahead and grant this since there is a current need.

Mr. Belden stated that he did not want to set a precedence by over riding a committee recommendation.  Even though the money would be going to a good cause he just did not want to set the precedence.  He thought that the committees needed a little time to get together and work this out.

Mr. Crawford stated that if we are going that route he would like to see more commitment from the H/M Tax Committee to reach out to groups like this and make sure that these differences are worked out before it comes to the council.

Mrs. Bench stated that in 2005 when council agreed to fund the $20k it was understood that they would continue to do so through the life of the grants.

Mr. Crawford stated that he did not understand what had happened to cause the H/M Tax Committee to take a step back and not support the project anymore.  Mr. Belden stated that he was not opposed to granting the money but that there has been some information shared that makes the need for the committees to work this out without setting the precedence of over riding a committee’s recommendation.  Once they do that then we can take action.

Mr. Crawford asked where this put the project if we delay a month.  Mrs. Bench informed them that if it is delayed a month the contractors will them run into weather and temperature problems with the mortar which could delay the project completion to the spring.  Mr. Duane Cook from the depot committee stated that he spoke with the brick workers 10 days ago and they are already doing other things waiting on the bricks.  They are refacing as many bricks as they can but they still need the bricks to complete their work.

Mrs. Bench stated that she could try and get all this information to the H/M Tax Committee “after the fact” if they would go ahead and approve the $6k for the brick.  I know that this is not the way you usually do things but I am asking based on the urgency of the need for the $6k for the bricks.

Mr. Crawford stated that he recognized the H/M Tax Committees need for the additional information but that he wanted to go ahead and make a motion to grant the request for the $6k for the bricks.  Mr. Waddell seconded the motion.  The vote was Mr. Crawford yes, and no by Messieurs O’keeffe, Waddell and Belden.  The motion not passed.

Mrs. Bench thanked the council for their consideration.


Preface:  This conversation took place during the New Business portion of the meeting so it was discussed during an open meeting.  It was not covered during the two discussions above even though both parties were available for the topic to be discussed.  Remember that the mayor is a member of the H/M Tax Committee and was a part of their discussion to fund or not fund the Depot Committee request even though she did not vote on the decision that was made by the H/M Tax Committee.  Remember that Mr. Belden stated that he was not opposed to granting the money but that there has been some information shared that makes the need for the committees to work this out without setting the precedence of over riding a committee’s recommendation.  Also remember that Mr. Crawford stated that he did not understand what had happened to cause the H/M Tax Committee to take a step back and not support the project anymore.  I have tried to be as succinct as possible in the writing of this account to reflect the actual conversations as they happened.  The first sentence was directed specifically at me.  The following is the rest of the story.

The Rest Of The Story

The mayor:  “I seriously hate to bring this up to you and would you please not suggest that I brought this up.  I have had two different people ask me about the depot.  About whether the city would sell the depot, can they get into look at the depot to possibly purchase it for office space.  It is a city building and I do not know how we go about that.  If I just refer them to city hall, do we want to let people look at it or do we just leave it with that committee and just leave it alone.  One person has called me three times so I need to get an answer back to them.”

Mr. Belden stated that we have to carry liability insurance on that don’t we.  What does that cost every year.  How much can we save by not paying liability insurance on there.

The mayor stated that at some point we are going to have to start paying to keep lights on in there.

Mr. Belden stated that that is what he meant if we sold it we would not be paying anything else.

Mr. Waddell stated that he thought that they were committed to the project.  The city has $27k invested in the project so far.  They are applying and receiving grants for the project.  This argument seems pretty thin to up and just say….sorry……sold.

Mr. Belden stated that that is the thing if the buyers are going to improve the thing the the goal of the committee is achieved.  If they are going to put office space in it they are going to fix it up themselves.

The mayor stated that they would restore it themselves.

Mr. Crawford stated that he thought he thought that the committee should be put in contact with the buyers and see if they could work something out.

The council agreed to this and the mayor stated that she would refer the prospective buyers to city hall and they can tell them who to call on the committee.  She further stated that she was not going to put herself into the position of trying to sell the depot.  They will need a price at some point.  I think that it is something that the committee needs to look at.

This ended the discussion.  I leave you to draw your own conclusions.


I may get more topics posted this evening but I need a break so it might not happen. Plus I just remembered that the duh…duh…duhbate is on this evening.

I have a commitment tomorrow so it will be evening before I get back to work on this.

October 10, 2008

Agenda, October City Council Meeting

Posted in Agenda at 4:47 pm by thevoicesofstuart

Here is the agenda for the Monday night City Council Meeting.

Agenda, October City Council Meeting

October 7, 2008

What Do You Think About The Presidential Debate (Updated)

Posted in 2008 Elections at 9:50 pm by thevoicesofstuart

By Peggy Schlichter

I am going to abstain from this discussion.  You all know by now that I am not impressed with either candidate.  Nothing was said that changed my mind.  It just further confirmed my opinion on them.

If you have anything you wish to say about the debate go for it.


After watching the latest debate Wednesday night I stand firm that neither candidate offers any real leadership or inspriation.   I stand firm in my conviction that neither candidate deserves a single vote.

On the democratic side the only change they want to make is a wholesale jump to socialism.  The taking from one group to give to another all under the guise of government.  On the republican side just more big government and empire building.

Both received major contributions from wall street and both voted for the bailout.

Neither candidate spoke of cutting government spending.  If you were listening closely the only spending cuts mentioned were to cut somewhere else to fund their new ideas.

Both candidates continue to use fear to push their platforms.  I do not buy this living in fear propaganda.  More people die from cancer or car accidents every year than from terrorists.  I mean think about it.

There are fewer than three thousand terrorists in the entire world.  Yet we have our rights negated for their actions. This is nothing more than punishing the many for the sins of the few.

And what about all these presidential directives that our current president has signed into being that has stripped just about every inalienable right away from each and everyone of us under the guise of making us safe.

I ask safe from who.

We have more to fear from our current government than from any terrorist.  I did not hear either one talking about ending any of them.

I did not hear either candidate speak about stopping the transfer of worthless so called “assets” onto the backs of the taxpayer.  As near as I can figure out the Federal Reserve has loaned in excess of a trillion dollars to banks in the last year through the lending window and it did not one thing to stave off the credit crunch.  They recently doubled the lending amount on top of the 700 billion for the bailout and that has done not one thing to help either.

I heard neither candidate say that they understood Social Security and Medicare are grossly underfunded nor did they put forth a plan to fix it.

All in all neither understands free market economics nor the fact that you cannot spend your way out of debt.

In this election, it is not a choice of the lesser of two evils.  Nor is it about a two party system.  This republic was never based on just two parties.  It was based on the right for people to choose their representatives in  government.  It is all about choosing to vote for a candidate who puts the people first.  It is about putting your foot down and saying no more big government, no more fear mongering, no more misrepresentation by officials who choose to thumb their noses at the very people who elect them.

I say that when you look at your ballot think about sending the biggest, loudest, most raspberry sounding nose thumb right back at every incumbent and presidential candidate who voted against the wishes of their constituents.

There are three other parties that you will see on your ballot.  The Greens, Socialists and Constitutionalists.

If everyone who is as dissatisfied as I am with this election choice cast a vote for neither republican or democrat it would make it a vote of “no confidence” in the two parties and the current political atmosphere.

Things would begin to change in this country.  It is so apparent that the course of this country can no longer be left in the hands of the current politicians.

While the Green and Socialist Parties have no interest for me, maybe just maybe, we need a constitutionalist for a change.  So think about it and cast your vote for taking back this country by voting for neither democrat or republican.

October 6, 2008

The Fox Is Now In Charge Of The Security For The Henhouse

Posted in my thoughts, The Economy at 5:17 pm by thevoicesofstuart

By Peggy Schlichter

If you thought that the bailout is a good thing it is time to reevaluate your notion.  Today Treasury Secretary Paulson designated a former Goldman Sachs executive Neel Kashkari to head the new Office of Financial Stability.  Mr. Kashkari is one of the many Goldman Sachs executives Mr. Paulson has filled the Staff of the Treasury with since taking office.

This says a lot about the way things are going to progress over the next couple of years.  Neither Messieurs Paulson or Kashkari have any understanding of bank regulation, they made their money doing the very same things that got the financial system into the mess they are in.

One has no option but to distrust the credibility of any action these gentlemen take when it comes to the best interest of the people they are sworn to serve.  Not one piece of the legislation passed is in the nation’s best interest.  The only time a homeowner will see a possibility of relief is after a delinquent mortgage is sold to the government.  There is absolutely no provision in the bill that requires the mortgage holder to make any attempt to salvage a loan from foreclosure prior to selling it to the government.  The lack of any such measure will focus the mortgage lenders on sifting through the marginal loans and offering them up to the government to unload them from their balance sheets.

The other glaringly bad proposition in the bailout bill is the provision is section 101 that effectively allows the Treasury to designate any financial institution as a Financial Agent of the Federal Government.

It says:

“Designating financial institutions as financial agents of the Federal Government, and such institutions shall perform all such reasonable duties related to this Act as financial agents of the Federal Government as may be required.”

This is so open ended that it allows any nation’s financial institutions holding derivative investments who are not performing to be designated as agents of the Federal Government.

One has to ask just how long it will take China and Japan to start foreclosure on mortgages it holds in these derivatives.

The China Development Bank is the second largest bank in Asia and the largest holder of US mortgage debt instruments and has been told that they will get this designation.

To make matters worse on October 1st Mr. Paulson notified China that 800 Billion AMERO’S were being shipped to China in exchange for $400 Billion worth of the estimated $2.5 Trillion debt they currently hold.

Now one has to ask how can this be acceptable to the Chinese when the AMERO is not even a legal currency.  They had to have some kind of assurance from the government that it will have worth in the near future.

My bet is that once the recession starts to deepen in the not to distant future NAFTA will raise its ugly head again and be used in the next scare tactic to save us from a worthless dollar.  The dollar against the yen has lost 4% of its value recently but has been gaining against the euro over the last several months because the European countries financial institutions are in the same sad sorry state and they started their bailouts over the weekend.

My next bet is that the Federal Reserve will lower interest rates again this month.  Doing again the exact same thing that started the problem in the first place.  The only people that will help is the financial institutions swapping money back and forth.

One now has to ask themselves several questions.

Why is this information not being covered in the US news?  Almost all of the information I put together here came from news agencies outside of the US.  Mostly from Europe.

Why should any elected official up for election in November receive a single vote if they voted yes on this bailout package?  That includes Messieurs McCain and Obama.

Why have neither of the presidential candidates spoken out about what is happening now if they do not plan to carry on down the same path?

Why have none of the financial institutions who created this mess been brought under investigation for fraud against their investors?

Why has Congress not removed Treasury Secretary Paulson from office for his apparent display of conflict of interest in handling this matter?


My hope for this post is that you really start thinking about what is going on around you today.  All is not lost.  There is still room for hope if the Congress can be swayed from their current path.  It will take a concentrated effort from every person to contact their representatives to repeal the bailout resolution as soon as possible.  Representative King is a good place to start.  Be proactive.  Know who owns your mortgage.  Where you make the payment to is not necessarily who owns your mortgage.  If you are under threat of a foreclosure get a lawyer and demand that the activity who filed for the foreclosure actually shows proof that they own the mortgage.  Many do not and cannot present the proof because mortgages have been repackaged and sold into so many different derivatives that they are untraceable.   If you are in trouble with your mortgage do not hesitate to contact the mortgage holder and see if a new deal can be worked out.  If you have a 401k through your employer it is best to have a outside non-partisan evaluation done at the soonest opportunity. If you have a independently established 401k have it evaluated for what you can afford to lose versus what it will cost to close it out.  There is a breaking point that is essential to find if you are planing to retire in the next 3 to 5 years so that the money can be moved to a safer investment.  The cost of oil is dropping so that will take a little pressure off.  Be prepared to see the DJIA drop to as low as 6000.  The NASDAQ to under 1500.  Watch the video called Money As Debt and understand what caused this situation in the first place.

October 2, 2008

Sold Down The River By Senators Grassley And Harkin

Posted in 2008 Elections, my thoughts at 1:03 am by thevoicesofstuart

By Peggy Schlichter

That is right.  Both of our Iowa Senators both voted yes on the bailout this evening.

After talking with both of the senator’s offices this morning and being assured that the senators were very aware of the wishes of their constituents to not support this bill they have turned around and insulted the very being of every Iowan.  According to the young men I talked to this morning calls were running about 200 no to every 1 yes.  That to me is a very clear signal.  Apparently it was not for the Senators.

This is a blatant “nose thumb” to their constituents.  The very people who have allowed them to hold this high office of trust.

That is it for me.  As far as I am concerned Senator Harkin has lost my vote in November.   I will be voting for the other guy.  His name is Christopher Reed.  The only thing I know about him is what his website says and he is not Senator Harkin.

So if a senator cannot take a rather pointed hint as evidently these two can’t.  The only thing left is to vote him out of office.  He does not deserve to hold the office any longer not does he deserve to represent the people of Iowa.

This should not be forgotten when Senator Grassley’s term is up either.

There is absolutely no excuse for this.

Representatives Braley and King deserve a phone call telling them to stay the course and continue to vote no.

Senators McCain and Obama both voted yes also.  If this does not tell you that they do not deserve your vote I do not know what else to say to you.

October 1, 2008

Aquatic Center Bids

Posted in Council Meetings at 8:26 pm by thevoicesofstuart

And Other Project Updates

By Peggy Schlichter

Mr. Forrest Aldrich informed the council that he had met with the aquatic center committee and they had decided what changes could be made in the plan to lower the cost.  The started with looking at each feature determining which feature to keep, change or delete from the plan.  They also talked about what would happen if they approached the project as a bottoms up plan.  Starting with the pool and making each feature a add-on giving a better picture when the bids come in on the cost of each feature.  They decided that was a better way and it would give the council a better picture of what they had to decide on and they would then have the costs of the features to consider.

The council was then informed that they needed to make a decision on the options:

First is to award the contract to Oak View Construction with the deducts recommended by the committee.

Second is to reject all bids and to re-bid it.

If you award the contract to Oak View Construction then those items that cost above the budgeted cost depending on the financing may not be considered a official award because you may need another public hearing.  Mr. Schultz stated that if you use general obligation bonds for the additional cost you have to have a public hearing and it is subject to a reverse referendum.  If you use TIF bonds you do not.  If you choose to use general obligation bonds as you planned to do for the base budgeted costs then you have to have a public hearing which requires a 10 day notice and is subject to a reverse referendum.  Mr. Aldrich informed the council that the earliest they could do that is October 20th.  The bids will have expired by then.  I need some assurance from the council on what they want to do then maybe Oak View can be persuaded to hold the bid.

Mr. Waddell stated that from their previous discussions it seemed that they had a better chance of getting more and better bids if they waited and re-bid the project if we were not so strict on the timetable.  Mr. Forrest agreed and informed the council that Mr. Fisher from Waters Edge contacted several other contractors that did not bid on the project.  He found that they were very interested but were committed to other projects going on and just could not fit this project into their schedules.  Three said that if you bid this starting in the spring their existing projects would be finished and they could start then.  He further informed the council that you would lose the season but you would gain several more bidders.

Mr. Waddell asked if there was a possibility of having a partial swim season.  Mr. Aldrich stated that one of the things they had talked about in the alternates was taking a late start date to see it any of the contractors were interested in that.  The result would be a possibility if one of the contractors bid that alternate.  There is no guarantee that any would.  He also thought that the contractors may ask for more money if they have to lose the summer months because now you are asking for the winter and the added costs of keeping cement warm.

Mr. Waddell stated that losing one swim season may be worth what we will get in years to come.  Plus a lower cost that may allow some of the deducts to be added.

Mr. Belden stated that they has asked the contractor how much money could be saved by making the pool size 10% smaller and found that it really did not change the cost all that much.  Mr. Sherman stated that the fixed costs remain even if the size changes.

Mr. Ashour asked what Mr. Fisher’s recommendation was.  Mr. Aldrich state that his recommendation was to re-bid the project.  There are better bids to be had based on his conversations with the other contractors.  That being said Mr. Aldrich stated that he could not say that even if they re-bid he could not say that they would receive a better outcome.

Mr. O’Keeffe asked when should it be re-bid.  Mr. Aldrich stated that Mr. Fisher recommended that they go out with a start date in the spring.  That means that the public hearing would be on the 12th for the project so the bids needed to be received by November 6th.

A motion was made and passed to reject all bids.

Mr. Sherman asked what the time frame was for receiving bids for city hall.  Mr. Aldrich stated it would be pushing May.  Mr. Sherman stated that in his mind they were already doing things backwards by going forward with the CCC first and now going forward with the aquatic center when the city building is the higher priority.  He thought that there wasn’t any problem with taking the bids but was concerned that when it is time for the city hall bids and they come in considerably higher what do we do then.  We will have already funded the aquatic center and then we could not fund a city hall.  Mr. Aldrich stated that they could wait and re-bid the aquatic center in June or July.  Mr. Sherman stated that maybe he had waited to long to say this but was really concerned that if the bids come in for the city hall higher they would be in trouble with the financing.  Mr. Waddell stated that he disagrees for the same reasons as before.  Why should they have to wait just because we are not ready with the city building.  We have known about the city building for a long time and we have done basically nothing with it.  Why should we make them wait because we have drug our feet for more than a year.  Mr. Sherman stated that his concern is that they build a really nice aquatic center and be happy to do that and then we can not afford a city building.  Messieurs Belden and Crawford jumped in with but there is $400k in the city building budget for furnishings and $275k for the library interior.  Mr. Sherman stated that he was just concerned.  It is nice to have the cultural center, it is nice to have a aquatic center but the city building is more of a priority.  Mr. Crawford stated that there is still plenty of flexibility in there and that they can always change the levy a little bit if there is a change in the city building cost.  Mr. Sherman stated that their track record with bids lately does not give him any confidence.  If the bids had been coming in a lot closer to the estimates he would not be so concerned about it.  Look at the bath house.  It is a nice building but not much of a building compared to what we paid for it.  What we paid for it seems way out of whack for what it is.

A motion was made and passed to re-bid the aquatic center to have bids by the November 12th council meeting.

Mr. Aldrich then informed the council that he needed to know if they were satisfied with the recommendations of the committee for the alternates.  They can be added in any order.  They can affect who is the low bidder.  They can be deleted without changing other parts of the bid.  The important one is having them start this spring and losing the swim season with the alternate if waiting until September to start.  That is a good selling point to the public because by having both costs you can point out that giving up one season will save us XX dollars.  There are some things we are taking out that are staying out.  But every other alternate is separate.

The committee informed the council that the $200k of items they took out are still important to them and they felt that they did not want to see them disappear.  They are going to continue fund raising and writing grants to fund those items.

Mr. Aldrich informed the council that they would need to look at the bids before the November meeting to order the alternates so the bids could be evaluated.  That means you will need a special meeting somewhere between the 6th and the 12th of November to prioritize the alternatives.

Mr. Aldrich informed the council that because of the change in the plans and the use of all these alternates Waters Edge has requested that their contract be modified to add $4,800 to cover the redesign of the mechanical systems.  This requires different pumps, hydraulics, lighting and piping to accommodate individual alternates.  Mr. Ashour stated that they could wait for the next meeting to decide about that.  Mr. Aldrich stated that he owed them an answer.  Mr. Waddell stated that you cannot expect someone to do something for nothing for us.  Why would we expect that.  Mr. Sherman asked why they needed to do this.  Can’t you use what we already have.  Mr. Aldrich informed the council that the changes are required to properly identify the line items so the contractors know what they are bidding on.  The council other than Mr. Waddell started squabbling about why they should have to pay more and that they did not want to get into paying more every time they turned around.  Mr. Aldrich pointed out that they have not been paid anything yet even though he had turned in bills to Mr. Ashour.  Waters Edge is looking for payment on those bills also.  Mr. Ashour stated that they will see those bills at the next regular meeting.  Mr. Belden asked if they will do the work anyway with their decision tonight.  Mr. Aldrich stated that he did not know what their answer will be.  The squabbling continued until the council decided to wait until the next meeting to decide.

Mr. Aldrich then updated the council on several other projects going on around town.

The swale has been fixed at 3rd and Division.   They have been told that they need to fix the cracks around the manhole at 5th and Division.  They want to hold off until next spring because they are concerned that there is some settling going on.

There are some cracks going down longitudinally.  If the cracks are tight.  If there is only one crack per panel.  If they are not spider-ed then the specifications say they just need to seal it and I agree with that because when you start replacing panels you can create more problems than you are fixing.  We will keep an eye on those and the two year bond will start when we accept the project.  We have not accepted it yet and now it will be next spring before we do now so there is not a problem.

The survey for the new city building will take place later this week so you will see surveyors around.

Mr. Aldrich asked the council if they had an answer on the water tank yet.  The mayor stated that they received a letter today stating that removal takes us from a Class 7 to a Class 8 level.  Mr. Ashour stated that he has given the letter to Mr. Gulbranson to find out how much that affects the city’s insurance.  Mr. Waddell stated that the determination was made on a 2003 survey and haven’t we had another main feeder line added since then.  The mayor stated that she had included that in the facts she submitted.  However the specifications of the line were not included.  Mr. Ashour stated that they should wait to hear back from Mr. Gulbranson on whether this is a significant change or not.  Mr. Aldrich informed the council that this is a real holdup on the project that needed to be settled soonest.  Mr. Ashour stated that he will have the answer within days.  The council then digressed into when was the last time they used the tank.  No one knew for sure.   Mr. Sherman stated that maybe we need a new survey.  Mr. Waddell stated that was a good idea since the existing one is 5 years old.  Mr. Ashour stated that he will put that on the Utility Board Agenda.

This ended the discussion.

TIF Review For Payment Of City Projects

Posted in Council Meetings at 1:23 pm by thevoicesofstuart

By Peggy Schlichter

Mr. Chip Schultz of Ruan Securities addressed the council with an review of the TIF payment for all the city projects recommending that they consider project prioritization and preparation needed for the 09/10 budget.

The total impact to the general fund for funding everything from TIF is $143 K.  Adair County LOSST will cover $43 K.  The Utility Board is committed for $35 K a year.  Adair County is no longer going to be TIf’ing inside the city limits begining in 09/10 and the benefit to the general fund from that is $56 K.  This totals $134 K to cover the general fund with a short fall of $9 K which is manageable and could be covered.

Mr. Schultz pointed out that for next years budget there would be increases necessary to cover general operations of the city, employees costs for salaries and benefits and operation of the aquatic center.  After sorting through those with Mr. Ashour there is another option that you can consider.

This option is to fund the city hall, library and police station by 70% TIF and 30% debt service levy.

Based on this option, the 300K increase in the aquatic center funding and all the other city projects with outstanding debt the increase to the tax levy is $1.34 per thousand.  That brings to total tax levy to $18.34 per thousand for the 09/10 budget year.

Mr. Crawford raised the issue that normal increases in valuation usually takes care of the majority of these increases.  Mr. Schultz pointed out that it averages around 2.5% which works out around $15 K conservatively.  He also pointed out that under this 70/30 option it changes the impact on the general fund to $120 K instead of $143 K.  Because of the other increased operation costs this is something the council needs to take into account.

Mr. Schultz pointed out that the council needs to look at all the options during the October and November meetings to decide what they wanted to do because December 1st is the deadline for TIF Certifications.  The decision must be made at the November meeting so the deadline can be met.  Mr. Schultz informed the council that he wanted to get this to them early because he could not attend the October meeting and they needed time to make their considerations.

Mr. Crawford presented the council with a overview of how the planned projects were all doable under TIF based on valuations as they exist today.  Basically he pointed out that there were other levies that could be adjusted to generate more revenue.  Mr. Ashour stated that the areas of levies he was talking about can only be based on actual needs based on number of employees, insurance and other constraints.

Mr. Schultz pointed out that there is no question that everything can be funded under TIF.  But, you have got to take it into account when you do the 09/10 budget.   You have to know what you have chosen to live under by choosing to use TIF.  It is all a balance on how critical you want to keep the levy.  $17.13 using all TIF versus flexibility for general operations for the city with $18.34.

Mr. Crawford then pointed out that they still had the city’s portion of Hotel/Motel that has not been allocated.  Mr. Ashour stated that there are already commitments on some of that money.  The full amount is not available.

Mr. Crawford also pointed out that the Community Cultural Center is funded 50% TIF, 50% tax levy and that could be adjusted.

Mr. Crawford stated that what he wanted everyone to know was that they had plenty of flexibility to go with 100% TIF for the projects.

Mr. Ashour informed the council that there are many things that will have to be considered in next years budget that will be impacted by their decision for the funding of the city projects.  By using 100% TIF they will have to make decisions on all these other areas also.  It will have an impact and increases will be associated with those impacts.  The other thing is that we will have to be able to operate the aquatic center after it is built.  There will be an impact there also.  The increase in valuations may not cover everything and you have to be aware of that.  So Mr. Schultz and I looked at all of these things and think that the 70/30 option is the best way to go.

Mr. Crawford stated that he just wanted to make sure that we have really researched the risk on this and make sure that we are not going to conservative on this.  We do not want to increase the tax load any more than it needs to be.

Mr. Ashour pointed out that he has worked to keep the tax load low for all the years he has been here and he still thinks the 70/30% option is the better way to go based on the projected increases he sees coming.  Mr. Crawford stated that even under the 100% plan there is flexibility in there.  Mr. Ashour agreed that there was but the amount of flexibility is greater under the 70/30% option.  He further pointed out that this is just one piece of the budget.  There are other areas that will have to be addressed and will have an impact also.  We have to get through this year and then we will have a better understanding for the next years.  This year is a struggle because we do not have any hard numbers to work with.  Everything this year is based on last years numbers and we are changing so many things this year that the results are not known yet.  Mr. Crawford stated that he still did not see where they needed to go with this new option.  I really just want to make sure that we know there are risks and they can be factored in.

Mr. Schultz pointed out that another thing they needed to keep in mind is that what if the bids come in on the new city building and they are higher than expected.  All the numbers I gave tonight includes the $300K increase in the aquatic center cost.  The greater concern is if the city hall numbers come in larger than expected.  What if it is 30 % over estimate.  If it comes in higher the budget shortfall will be even greater.  Just consider that when you are discussing the next action you want to take on the aquatic center.

Mr. Crawford stated that what they are looking at is budget shortfall and that it is manageable using 100% TIF.  If the city hall comes in higher and we all agree we can accept that then we will have to consider where we are TIF wise.  Mr. Schultz pointed out that there is not anymore room to cover the shortfall in the general fund if the city hall costs come in higher.  That is what you need to be aware of.  You can not pay for that increase with TIF unless you find other money to back fill the general fund shortfall associated with it.

Mr. Belden stated that does not affect this year.  We are not bidding the city hall and do not have to deal with it until the next budget year.  Mr. Schultz pointed out that is true but the consideration still applies for that budget.  Mr. Belden stated that we would not be shorting this years budget because the TIF certification will not be until the following December.  Mr. Schultz agreed but stated that you has better be planning for it.

Mr. Ashour asked the council if they had any questions for him about this.  This is a better option that needs to be considered.  We have to certify this the 1st of December and Mr. Schultz can not be here for the October meeting so I asked him to be here to get this information out.   We have the October and November meetings to hash this out but you need to agree on which action you want to take by the November meeting.

This ended the discussion.

Special Meeting Recap

Posted in Council Meetings at 10:49 am by thevoicesofstuart

By Peggy Schlichter

Short Topics

The municipal infractions for Lacey and Bentler were tabled to the next regular meeting of the city council on October 13th.

A motion was made and passed to set the date of November 12th for the public hearing on the environmental impact study at the Waste Water Treatment Facility.

Beggars Night is scheduled for October 31st from 5:30 t0 7:30 pm.