Council seeks more info on $31K roofing bid


By Erin M. Gentz

Index Interim Editor

The West Liberty City Council voted down a $31,175 change order for the electric re-roofing project during the June 4 council meeting, though the issue promised to be brought up again at the June 18 meeting.

“Thirty-one thousand dollars is a big ask,” said mayor pro tem Cara McFerren, before asking why the amount had not been factored into the original project.

City engineer Leo Foley said he had not been very involved with the design aspect of the project. “That was done by BHMG after the plans were done and the contractor was selected.”

“But this is a building issue, not the electrical engineering issue,” said McFerren. “I think from the building contracting part, that falls within your purview.”

“It could. But we work for you, based on contract by contract, based on whatever you guys decide,” responded Foley. “On that one, they decided BHMG would do the design. I don’t really know why.”

City manager Lee Geertz responded.

“I want to be fair to Leo fully on this. But I also have to be very careful with any statements as to why we went with BHMG. And at that time, it very much had to do with the management of the department. And I’ll leave it at that.”

Foley lobbied for approval.

“I know it’s a big ask,” said Foley.  “I’m not sitting here for a minute saying it’s not. And I know I wish we would have had this ahead of time, but I do think they’re doing a good service for the city, I do think this roof has been leaking forever, from what I understand, and I think that when they’re done, we’re going to have a good roof on that building. And I think that’s really important with all of the money that’s inside that building. I recommend approval.”

Geertz and electrical superintendent Cody Franklin explained they had a second change order, but it had not been made available to the council yet. Geertz said it would be available for the June 18 meeting.

“So, you’re recommending we vote for something we’re not paying?” asked Mayor Mark Smith.

City clerk Shari Hoffert ultimately recommended the council vote down the change order in front of them rather than table it, for the sake of clarity.

Rainbow Drive project update

Foley also gave an update on the Rainbow Drive project. He said during a walk-through, some cracked concrete had been discovered and will need to be replaced. On Columbus Street, Foley said city manager Lee Geertz and public works superintendent Adam Reinhardt had been working with property owners to get easements for sidewalks in place. “Lee, Adam and I met with the property owner, and they came up with a kind of compromise, so we’re going to put that in writing.”

A walk-through also took place in the Buysse subdivision, which Foley said he understood went well, for the most part. “They’ve had a fire hydrant they’ve had a hard time pressure testing, and what they found out is that they had a defective hydrant.” Foley said the defective parts in the hydrant will be replaced and it will need to be retested. He said the sanitary sewer had been tested with a camera, or “televised,” and the footage was being reviewed. A representative from engineering firm Veenstra & Kimm is scheduled to check the streets for any cracking. “Things look pretty good. I just drove past, and it looks like they’ve cleaned it up a lot in the last couple days.”

Foley also gave an update on the wastewater treatment plant improvements.

Foley said West Liberty Foods has been attempting to get higher limits of wastewater. He added there was a potential for the company to attain the higher limits, but more sampling would need to be done on their current output for a report to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. “That’s something … we’re not going forward or anything like that, just letting you know that’s out there. But if we can potentially that will make it so our improvements could be less costly in the long run.”

Meetings with West Liberty Foods officials are ongoing, and city manager Lee Geertz said she and wastewater superintendent Craig Juergens learned the company has developed a process for their sampling. “Now that they’re able to get that sampling correct, I think that will put us in a good position to have that meeting with the data that’s going to be able to come through.”

Police update

Reviewing the police department’s report during the June 4 council meeting, Mayor Mark Smith noted there had been an increase of calls to the department compared to a year ago. Smith said this was an indication of “the relationship we have with community policing.”

Council member Josh Shiltz commended Officer Jessica Saleh, who recently left the department for a job in Wilton. “I’ve heard many good things about her.”

“I’m sad to see her go as well,” added McFerren.


The council approved bills in the amount of $480,112.62, and library pre-paid claims in the amount of $8,113.87. The vote on the bills passed on a 4-1 vote, with council member Dana Dominguez voting “no” due to a conflict with a vendor. “It’s not really a conflict for me, I just don’t agree with that vendor. And I know it’s not the city’s fault, it’s the system’s fault. I just wanted to explain why I’ll be voting no.”

New city attorney

Mayor Smith introduced West Liberty’s new city attorney, Amy Reasner, who works with the law firm Lynch Dallas, P.C. out of Cedar Rapids. The firm primarily represents municipalities.

“We very much appreciate the opportunity to work with you,” said Reasner.

Mower sale

The council approved the sale of a 72-inch Pro Z 900 Cub Cadet mower from the Parks & Recreation department to $310 to Craig Juergens. The city received three bids for the mower.

Liquor license approved

The council approved a 12-month Class E Retail Alcohol license for Casey’s General Store without objection. McFerren asked police chief Joshua Houser if there had been any problems with the store. He responded that there had been no issues.

Crews commended

McFerren and council member Omar Martinez commended city staff for their clean-up efforts following recent damaging storms in the area. Library director Allie Paarsmith said that forms are available at the library, printed in Spanish and English, to apply for emergency assistance grants. She said staff were available to help citizens with any questions about the forms.

Public works superintendent Adam Reinhardt said 140 dump truck loads of debris had been removed so far.

“And there’s plenty of mulch available,” said Mayor Smith.

“Yeah, down at the recycling center, free to take,” confirmed Reinhardt. “Take it all.”

Closed session

The council entered into a closed session pursuant to Iowa Code Chapter 21.5 (c) to discuss strategy with council in matters that are in litigation or where litigation is imminent, where its disclosure would be likely to prejudice or disadvantage the position of the governmental body in that litigation. The council took no action upon returning to open session, and the meeting was adjourned.