Recycling seeds planted

Jacob Lane · Tuesday, October 24, 2017
The city council talked recycling, Maxson Street construction and the electric utility during their meeting Tuesday, Oct. 17.

To begin, the city is one step closer to curbside recycling, the council approved a contract for a new West Liberty Municipal Recycling Facility at the meeting.

The facility will cost $242,611 according to Kalona Post and Frame, which was awarded the contract. It will replace the old one at N. Walnut Street.

West Liberty is working towards providing curbside recycling to all residents by the summer of 2018. That means residents will be able to recycle from home.

The total estimated cost of the project is $1.7 million. However, the city secured a SWAP grant totalling $900,000 several months ago.

“Unfortunately we could not move forward with the project because we found that the land where the current recycling yard is was never transferred and filed at the county in 2006,” City Manager Lawrence McNaul told the Index.

“We’ve spent about nine months in legal work to get it straightened out and justcompleted it last month,” he added. “That is why you are starting to see momentum again.”

The plan is to have city workers pick up recycling bins weekly at resident’s homes, like garbage bins, and haul all recycling to the new center.

All of the recycling gathered at the Municipal Recycling Facility will be transported to a yet-to-be decided facility in Scott or Dubuque County twice-a-month.

Right now residents have to travel to the recycling center on Walnut Street themselves to drop off goods. Plus, the city transports all that recycling four times a week to Iowa City.

There’s still a lot to work out; however, it appears curbside recycling will not be optional. It will cost around $3 to $5 more on monthly utility bills.

That being said, if residents are reducing their garbage by recycling more the price should even out, since they’ll have less garbage.

Part of the overall price tag will be a new recycling truck scheduled to arrive in November.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has requested that West Liberty be a regional drop off point.

The means other haulers and communities could use West Liberty’s new Municipal Recycling Facility for drop off.

While the city is working towards a new curbside recycling program, many final decision still have to be made by council over the course of the year.

Next, the Maxson Street construction project is nearing 70 percent completion, it should be done before winter.

This was according to City Engineer for Veenstra & Kimm Leo Foley, who recommended the city approve a payment of $311,570 to All American Concrete.

The city began the $1.2 million overhaul of Maxson Street last spring, beginning at Elm Street in front of the high school and running all the way to Miller Street.

The project includes widening the road, replacing water and sewer pipe systems, new concrete and sidewalks and handicap accesses for the intersection.

The biggest street project in recent years for the community, it looks like life for those living on Maxson Street will be back to normal by winter.

“They’re moving quite well, all the water and sewer, I’m told, is completely done now,” said Foley. “Now they’re down to, on the west side, finishing the concrete.”

Finally, the city officially restructured $4.2 million in electric revenue bonds, the bonds were sold and interest rates locked in place the morning before the meeting.

“I feel real good about the results we got here,” said Michael Hart, Vice President of Public Finance at Northland Securities.

The total amount, $4,150,000, will cost the city around $410,000 to $415,000 over then next 12 years at an interest rate of 2.80 percent.

The agreement also includes a reserve fund of $416,000, set up from a cash reserve of the city’s previous bond issue, which will be paid off in December.

“That should allow you to continue to make the investments you need to in the utility as you go forward,” Hart added.

Basically, the city completely paid off the remainder of a 2011 electric water bond as part of the process, creating the new bond at a lower interest rate than before.

The new bond will go towards the purchase and installation of a new municipal electric utility switchgear and transformer.

It also includes a rural line upgrade on Evans Avenue and the funds needed to replace several old electrical poles around the city.

“You have two local banks here that are extremely supportive of the city, they played a big part purchasing these bonds,” said Hart of both West Liberty State Bank and MidWest One Bank.

Restructuring for a lower rate was made possible by the electric rate raise that occurred back in 2015, a raise that was not popular.

However, the city claimed the raise was necessary because up until that point it had been operating off of a rate structure from the 1980s losing it money.

In fact, during the 2014/15 fiscal year the electrical fund lost around $684,000 alone. The 10 years before that it bled out around $1 million.

It wasn’t until fiscal year 2015/16, after the adjustment occurred, that the utility showed a healthy positive balance. With that, the city worked on restructuring its rate bonds.

In other news…

-If you have any interest of joining the Planning and Zoning Committee, now is the time. The five-man board will soon have four openings. Members Jim Conrey, James Howard and Bill Koellner will soon be retiring, while the spot left open after Ken Ruegsegger passed away was never filled.

- After a closed session, the council approved authorizing the mayor to sign settlement issues regarding litigation in two matters.

-The council approved its Regular Meeting Minutes from Oct. 3, 2017, the Treasurer’s Reports for September 2017, the CH2MHill/OMI Monthly Client Report for September, 2017 and the Vendor/Voucher Claims List in the amount of $658,834.62.

-Resident Briana Maurer will be rebated $90.63 for the sewer portion of her water bill. Though the city found a hose running in her yard, the water drained into the yard and not the city’s sewer.

-The city received a complaint about the water plant, which recently added Reverse-Osmosis filtration softening city water. The complaint: Culigan is having to uninstall several of its water softeners in the city.

-The council amended several interfund transfers within the city to read that they occurred in fiscal year 2017 as opposed to fiscal year 2016.

-A fine on the waste water plant from the EPA was rebutted by the city. The EPA agreed to cut the fine from $9,000 to $4,500. The city will now apply for a Supplement Environmental Project to cut the fine 40 percent more.

-The council will hold a goal setting session in Tuesday, Nov. 28, 6 p.m. during which it will develop, plan and set strategic directions for the future.
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