Friday, December 16, 2016

Council divided on Cherokee County Regional Airport project

The Cherokee City Council, at their Dec. 13 meeting , voted 3 to 2 to provide a guarantee of a loan of $150,000 from Iowa Lakes Electric Cooperative to the Cherokee Aviation Authority (CAA) to help finance replacement of a hangar with a new hangar. The old hangar has been torn down and the new hangar is expected to be constructed next year.

The total cost of the project is about $600,000 and is being paid for through a $229,000 grant, some reserve funds of the CAA and the loan. The guarantee makes it possible to get a 2 percent interest rate on the loan.

Council member Chad Brown spoke in opposition to the loan guarantee. He said, “What bothers me about this is that you guys did not have a guarantee and tore the hangar down anyway. I wish that you would have come here first and talked to us.”

CAA representatives explained that the intent was to get the old hangar torn down right away so that construction could begin in the spring rather than wait and rebid the project, likely at a higher cost.

Jim Agnitsch, Will Miller and Emily Johnson voted for the motion to guarantee the loan. Chad Brown and Wayne Pingel voted against the motion.

The city is adjusting its Oak Hill Cemetery policy regarding beautification, extending it beyond Memorial Day and focusing on general decoration rather than individual plot beautification. Last July, the council adopted an ordinance regarding past donations given to the city to place flowers on Memorial Day weekend. Notice was given to the public that the principal had long been spent on most of the donations.

The notice sent last summer stated, in part, “Instead of individual plot beautification, the city’s focus will be on general flower placements on poles in the cemetery. Individual placements are still encouraged and local vendors are available to assist.”

At the Dec. 13 meeting, the council approved a resolution to purchase 30 display pots and 18 display poles. There are 12 display poles already in place. The resolution also called for the annual purchase of 30 flower displays subject to annual appropriation.

The first year cost will be approximately $4,000 with the second year cost about $1,500. The funding source is a special care fund.

The council voted to approve a resolution to declare a city lot west of 414 Valley View Drive to be surplus property and authorize sealed competitive bids to be accepted.

The council fixed a date of Jan. 10, 2017 for a public hearing regarding a proposed amendment to the Cherokee Urban Revitalization plan. Under the amended plan, multi-residence buildings (3 or more residences) will receive a full exemption of the taxes on the increased value of the property after construction or renovation for 10 years. Single family dwellings currently are entitled to a five year exemption of taxes on the increased value starting at 100 percent and decreasing each year. The amendment calls for a 100 percent exemption all five years.

City administrator Sam Kooiker said, “This is a very valuable thing we can do to help encourage investment in multi-family housing.”

The council approved water revenue capital loan notes not to exceed $850,000 for a line to improve water access and reliability in the southern part of Cherokee. The matter had been discussed extensively at previous council meetings and was passed without comment at the Dec. 13 meeting.

The council postponed action on a proposal to purchase an aerial fire truck to the Dec. 27 meeting.

The council install a valve in a water line serving the high school and declare the line a service line. The valve installation will be at city expense.

The council approved a demolition bid for 330 East Main of $5,740 and for 432 East Willow of $7,622.50. The same bidder was the sole bidder for each of the projects.


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