Nichols gets budget busy

Toni Wilson · Wednesday, February 19, 2014
The Nichols city council meeting was held Wednesday, Feb. 12. All council members were present.

The consent agenda was approved unanimously. During the public forum a question about the installation of the new play equipment for the city park was asked. Mayor Geertz, who is storing the equipment at Pike Run Services, said that when the weather improves, hopefully by March or April, the job would be completed.

Mayor Geertz explained that City Attorney Amber Freyermuth was unable to attend the meeting this month as planned, but will be at the March meeting. While she's there the Fringe Area Agreement will be put up for review and approval by the council.

There were five bids presented to the council for the mowing of city properties. The bids received were submitted by the following; J & J Viner, Robert Wood, George Simons, Dan Christofferson and Porres Lawn Service. The council accepted the bid presented by Robert Wood.

Due to a problem with water pipes freezing this winter, John’s Home Improvement has been hired to repair and insulate the north wall of City Hall for a sum of $500. The first responders are a provisional service.

The regular meeting was closed at 7:30 p.m. and a budget hearing was opened. A lengthy discussion on how to better use city funds ensued.

One council member questioned why a city the size of Nichols needed a police department, when Lone Tree seems to manage without one. It was explained that the Iowa Supreme Court has ruled that a city has “an obligation to make arrangements for its own police services.”

The Supreme Court further stated that while the mayor can appoint a chief of police subject to council approval, the “city council, rather than the mayor, bore duty to provide police protection.” This decision clearly states that “police protection is one of the basic municipal services the city must provide to its residents to justify its existence under Chapter 368.”

Mayor Geertz brought up for discussion several major city improvements for future consideration. He would like to hire an engineering firm for $3,000 to $5,000, to estimate the cost of paving the streets of Nichols, including curb and gutter.

Another request was for $5000 to replace the 'Welcome to Nichols' signs on Highways 22 and 70. The council seemed open to the ideas, but were unsure how to manage the budget in order to accomplish this undertaking.

Lee Geertz, city treasurer for West Liberty and the mayor’s wife, was present to offer helpful suggestions on how better to direct the city’s money.

Mayor Geertz requested $5000 to be allocated for the work needed to alleviate the water drainage problem. The problem of water standing in the streets was brought to the attention of the council in March of 2013.

In July Broders was to be contacted to remove soil build-up along the ditches which is keeping water from draining properly into the ditches. In September council was informed that Broders had been extremely busy and unable to undertake the job. The Council approved taking money from the General Fund to solve this situation.

Mayor Geertz then closed the budget hearing and reopened the regular meeting. The budget will be reviewed again at the March meeting.

The meeting closed at 8:55 p.m. The next meeting will be March 12 at 7:30 p.m. at Nichols City Hall.
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