Budget, public works dominate city council meeting

Presentations by Lori Stansberry of the finance department and Lynn Couch of the public works-engineering division generated most of the interest and discussion at the City Council’s Committee of the Whole meeting Monday night.

Items presented on the committee’s agenda were for review and discussion purposes only and no formal action was taken.

Stansberry reviewed key income and expenditure items on the fiscal year 2013/2014 budget effective July 1.

Estimated expenditures total nearly $48,129,000.

Stansberry reviewed final budget figures which showed the general fund taking 8.1 cents/$1,000 valuation of property tax, employee benefits taking 3.48 cents and police and fire retirement requiring 1.57 among others. The combined totals were 14.37 cents/$1,000 valuation.

Last year’s total was 14.28 – a proposed increase of 9 cents per $1,000 valuation.

Council member Leon Lamer said he disagreed with the need to increase the valuation 9 cents per $1,000.

“I’m not in favor of increasing it … we need to hold the line.”

Mayor Thompson then asked all council members to be prepared to make recommendations on the budget at the Feb. 25 meeting.

City Clerk Shari Coughenour also asked the council to be prepared to give budget approval or disapproval March 11.

The budget must be certified by Marshall County March 15, Stansberry said.

Couch presented plans, costs and public hearing dates for microsurfacing, mill and overlay, crack sealing and sidewalk and ramp replacement projects throughout the city.

A South Third Avenue rebuild of a third of a mile is budgeted at $450,000 generated discussion from the council.

The public hearing on plans and specifications is March 25.

Additionally, a proposed installation of a box culvert on West Olive St. also generated discussion and is estimated at $764,000. The public hearings on plans and specifications is April 8.

At the end of Couch’s presentation Lamer praised Couch and his staff.

“I really appreciate the work Lynn and his staff did to get the bids out in the early spring when the contractors are not as busy, versus sending them out in the summer and fall when they are busy,” said Lamer.

In other business, council discussed fees for the alley vacation to Don Anderson of The Brew House, 4 W. Boone and Fisher Controls, LLC.

Parks and Recreation Director Terry Gray reported the department had applied for a grant to the Iowa Grocer’s Association which would fund purchase of park benches made from recycled plastic materials, such as plastic bags.

The department has received funding in the past.

Gray also gave a status report on chain saw art exhibits to be placed in Riverview Park.

Consent agenda items were the minutes of the Feb. 11 meeting and reappointments to various boards and commissions.

Among them, Maureen Lyons and Thomas Colbert are scheduled to be reappointed to the library board of trustees. Their terms expire July 1, 2013.