New London: Financing clerk's sewer not allowed by Code
By STEPH TAHTINEN
Mt. Pleasant News
NEW LONDON — Despite issuing a public statement that the city’s financial assistance to the city clerk’s sewer line was not allowed for under Iowa Code, the City of New London is not asking that the money be repaid.
In 2010, the council voted to pay City Clerk Kasi Howard and her husband, Jesse Howard, up to $3,500 or two-thirds of the cost of connecting their home to city sewer.
Last fall, the state ombudsman’s office called this action into question and advised that the council ask the Howards to return all or a portion of the amount.
In response to the ombudsman’s request, at Tuesday night’s regular city council meeting, the council approved and read a public statement acknowledging that meetings, the use of public funds for the Howard’s financial assistance was not completed in regards to Iowa Code and was therefore not allowed.
“According to the city attorney, this should solve the whole problem,” said Mayor Ron Sadler.
After summarizing the meeting minutes referencing the Howards’ request, the statement reads that the minutes do not report an evaluation of a public purpose for funding the Howards’ sewer line, as is required by Chapter 15A.1 of the Iowa Code.
According to the statement, “The July 6, 2010 minutes do not report a finding by the City Council of a public purpose as defined in the Iowa Code when the Council approved the funding to the Howards’ sewer line and therefore the funding of the Howards’ sewer line was for a private purpose not allowed for under Iowa law as set out in Chapter 15A.1 of the Iowa Code.”
The council concluded its public statement saying that in the future, the council will complete this evaluation.
In spite of the council’s statement, when it came time to take action on requiring the Howards to repay none, all or a percentage of the financial assistance provided to them, it was moved, seconded and approved that the Howards pay back zero dollars, with Councilwoman Alisha Hudnall casting the lone vote against this motion.
In other business Tuesday night, the city council also approved the fiscal year 2014 budget, including a property tax decrease of just under four cents per $1,000 taxable valuation in the upcoming fiscal year.
The fiscal year 2014 budget includes a property tax levy of 11.331854 per $1,000 taxable valuation, a decrease of .03804 from the fiscal year 2013 levy of 11.35658 per $1,000 taxable valuation.
This means that a house with a taxable valuation of $50,000 will see a decrease of $1.90 on its property tax bill in fiscal year 2014.
The tax levy rate for agricultural land in 2014 is listed at 3.00375 per $1,000 taxable valuation. This is the same levy rate as fiscal year 2013.
With these levy rates, the city expects to receive $420,614 in revenue from property taxes in fiscal year 2014. This is an increase of $15,814 from the $404,800 received in fiscal year 2013.
The city is expecting to almost double its revenues for fiscal year 2014, yet it is also doubling its expenditures.
Total revenues for fiscal year 2014 are listed at $8,828,000; they were $4,505,540 in 2013. Total expenditures for fiscal year 2014 are listed at $8,543,819; they were $4,097,990.
This difference is due to the city’s upcoming sewer project, which is estimated to cost about $3.5 million. The project, prompted by changed regulations from the DNR, involves replacing the city’s current lagoon system with submerged attached growth reactor (SAGR) system.
Most of the increase in revenue shown is due to the loans taken out for the project, and the cost of the project is then reflected in the expenditures.
The budget includes a beginning fund balance on July 1, 2013 is listed at $2,435,128. The ending fund balance on June 30, 2014 is listed at $2,719,309.
In other business, the council:
- Set a public hearing on May 7 to open bids for the aggregate material for the SAGR units. According to Matt Walker of French-Reneker Associates, the project will need over 20,000 tons of rock for the project. This is the equivalent of a pile of rock the length of a football field, 60 feet wide and 10 feet deep.
- Discussed making the east side of the 300 block of S. Walnut Street from the bus turnaround to the old tennis courts a no parking area from 7:45 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. to improve safety when buses and parents are dropping off and picking up students. This item will be included on the agenda for April 2.
- Approved a resolution to donate $100 to the annual Easter egg hunt
- Voted to change the city’s website.
- Approved a software agreement with Data Technologies, Inc., for new software, conversion and annual maintenance.