West Liberty City Council

City infrastructure project could run $2 million

North end work will set up new subdivision

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An infrastructure improvement project on the north end of West Liberty will cost an estimated $2 million, city engineer Leo Foley told members of the West Liberty City Council Tuesday, Nov. 16, at their regular session, held at their temporary council chambers at the West Liberty Public Library.

Foley, who represents Veenstra and Kimm of Rock Island, said tentative estimates for work on Rainbow Drive and Maxson Street will include four different alternatives for the board, costs he said were all below the Capital Improvement Plan estimates.

The below ground and street work is necessary to allow for development of properties on the north end of the city, including a 43-unit single family and multiple family development on the corner of Rainbow and Garfield, a 13 acre site to be known as the Buysse Subdivision, with entrances off Rainbow Drive. The infrastructure work will also aid the possible future development of the Dutton Sports Complex area, where there once were plans for a subdivision north of the ball-park/recreation complex.

Foley said he would present the four alternatives at the first meeting in December to give the council options.

In related developments, the council authorized a resolution obligating funds from the Urban Renewal Tax Revenue Fund for appropriation to the payment of annual appropriation TIF (tax increment financing) obligations due in the 2021-22 fiscal year to include about $37,500 for a rental housing project on the southwest corner of the community by Giri LLC, owned by developer Deepak Giri of West Liberty.

The funding also includes $53,750 for membership in the WeLead Economic Development organization, $160,000 for professional and administrative costs and urban renewal revitalization grant program to the tune of $100,000.

In other business, the city approved work by Wertzbaugher Services in West Liberty to create and install an ADA compliant aluminum railing on the west side main entrance to the remodeled city hall building at a cost of $1,600.

The city also approved a request for event assistance by the West Liberty Police Department from Fr. Guillermo Trevino of St. Joseph Catholic Church on Sunday, Dec. 12, to host a Guadalupe procession, dance and parade that would start on Third Street in downtown West Liberty, turn north on Calhoun Street and end at the church on East Sixth Street.

Put together by City Clerk Lee Geertz, the city also approved a resolution authorizing the clerk to file a 2020-21 fiscal year street finance report with the Iowa Department of Transportation. The report included $1.24 million in expenses, nearly $1.48 million in revenues and reports on balances of a pair of bonds and loans that opened as long ago as 2016 to the tune of $480,000, now having a balance of $210,000 together. The report also included a list of 20 pieces of city equipment, from trucks to stump grinders.

In summary, the clerk reported to the DOT an ending balance of $2.24 million from various street accounts.

The city also set a public hearing on their regular meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 7 at 7:30 p.m. to dispose of Automated External Defibrillator (AED) equipment not being used by the police department. In a letter to the council from officer Kim Halpain, she explained becoming aware of a non-profit organization known as the John D. Gomke Charity, Inc., started by Steve and Jessica Gomke, after their 33-day-old baby, John, stopped breathing unexpectedly on a car ride home from the store.

Thanks to rapid CPR response by the father, the family was able to keep the child alive for three more days before he died. Since then, the couple has devoted their lives to education and equipping families and schools to deal with rapid coding of youths.

The department has two Reviver AED units, which were set aside when the police upgraded to new models. Halpain proposed donating the units, as well as accessories and pads, to the Gomke program, pointing out rapid defibrillation increases the chance of survival by 30 percent when a patient is coding.

The council also set a special work session for their Tuesday, Dec. 21 meeting to begin at 6:30 p.m. to inform the new mayor Katie McCullough and city council members Dana Gonzalez and Omar Martinez on litigations the city has pending before they take office in January.

The city engineer also gave an update on the Well #2 revitalization project, noting, “Things are starting to click, click, click.”

Foley also reported on working on an Emergency Management Plan for the city that needs to be completed by the end of the year, noting a contract for the work would be presented at the Dec. 7 meeting.

City manager David Haugland Foley said he has reviewed plans for the Buysse housing with developers and said the city should move forward to create housing next spring, filling a huge need in the community for places to live.

There was also a lot of talk at the meeting about the rededication of the Lady Liberty statue at the northeast corner of the remodeled city hall which took place Sunday, as well as other activities surrounding the West Liberty Chamber of Commerce Holiday Open House event.

Geertz reported a request to utilize golf carts to shuttle residents from activities at the Muscatine County Fairgrounds to the downtown area would require a special one-day permit. She also reported the Chamber has umbrella insurance coverage for activities during the day, including coverage for an estimated six fire pits to be scattered in the downtown area.

The council also authorized an independent accountant’s report by Bowman and Miller PC of Marshalltown on applying agreed upon procedures for a period from June-15, 2018 to Oct. 15, 2020, performed solely for the purpose of determining the amount of under billing of the city’s water and sewer utilities during that time.

The firm identified $39,078.82 of water utility under billing and $326,792.97 of sewer utility under billing, creating a total of $365,821.79. The firm reported a monthly examination was made with the exemption of September 2018, reporting it was lost in the software and hard copy systems.

The firm confirmed in-town consumers of water were under billed by 46-cents per 1,000 gallons of usage during that time for a total of $34,350 while out-of-city consumers were under billed by 71-cents per 1,000 gallons, totaling $4,718.

The under billing on sewer rates was exclusively for West Liberty Foods, the city’s largest industry, totaling $326,792 from June, 2018 to July, 2020.

The firm also praised the help of city officials in helping with the investigation.

The council meets again on Dec. 7.

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