Salem leaders correct a mistake
By BROOKS TAYLOR
Mt. Pleasant News
SALEM — City council members last night corrected what Councilman Bruce Eltrich perceived as a wrong.
During its May meeting, the council voted 3-2 not to increase city employee Dick Myers’ salary for fiscal 2013-14.
“I think we made a mistake voting against it,” Eltrich told his peers. “The more I thought about it the more I realized we made a mistake.”
Council members corrected the mistake Tuesday night, voting unanimously to grant Myers a 2-percent salary increase.
Repair work is on the horizon for the community center. The council learned that the air-conditioning system and exterior door and frame need replacing.
Myers said the new city generator does not work well with the current air conditioner. “The air conditioner has a ‘hard start’ apparatus whereas the newer ones have a soft start. Consequently, the air conditioner is pulling too much power too quickly,” he told the council.
Replacement of the door and door frame were discussed at the last council meeting but no decision made.
Former Mayor Jim Onorato told the council that there is some money for those projects. The Velma H. Doan Schee Chairtable Remainder Annuity Trust was left to the city in 2000. Funds in the trust are designated for the community center.
Later, Onorato said there is approximately $17,000 in the fund, which is now in a certificate of deposit.
Council members will seek bids on both projects. “I think we should get bids for a whole new air-conditioning and heating system. That would be better in the long run,” Councilman Chuck Kramer said. The current system was installed in 1987. Estimates on the door and frame replacement are around $3,000.
Dave Helman gave a presentation on a federal grant program administered by the Southeast Iowa Regional Planning Commission (SEIRPC) for the rehabilitation of owner-occupied homes. Residents have to meet certain income criteria and the amount awarded cannot exceed $24,999. The grant is for five years and if the homeowner moves or sells the property, he/she must pay back a prorated portion of the grant.
First, a confidential income survey must be completed by Salem residents. An 80-percent return rate is needed, Helman said.
“There are only two questions on the survey. We need to get an 80-percent return rate which is quite high. Usually you don’t get near that return rate on a survey,” Helman said.
He said the survey will be mailed to residents July 1 with a return date of July 31. Some 204 households have been identified as qualifiers for the survey.
Helman, a rural Salem resident, said he will work with the city clerk on the survey but said some council help also might be needed. “We will have to have some legwork on this and the council will have to help.”
Last night’s presentation was the third the council has received on the grant.
“This is a good program,” Helman said. “It is money that is out there, we kick into it with our (income) taxes. It is incumbent upon us to get our share of the pie. If we don’t get it, somebody else well.”
Members of the Salem Old Settlers Association requested and received permission to build a proposed 20x30 building near the library. “We will buy it, put it up and maintain it as long as the city mows the area near it,” Jim Dean told the council.
Dean said the association wants to store some of its material there and the city also could use it for storage. The building will not be heated.
Utility fees may be increasing in Salem. Kramer said the city has not raised fees for a while and would like to look at small incremental increases rather than a single, large increase. “I think we might have to have two gradual increases,” he said. “I don ‘t want a large increase all at once.”
Council committees will study the issue along with City Clerk Rhonda White.
Salem council members meet again in regular session Tuesday, July 2, at 7 p.m. in the Community Center.