City council covers bases

Ashley Smith · Wednesday, August 9, 2017
The entire West Liberty Police Department was present at the city council meeting on Aug. 1, 2017 for the swearing in of officer Josh Houser. A round of applause greeted the new officer as Chief Kary Kinmonth completed the ceremony.

The council discussed a Class C Liquor License with Sunday Sales, applied for by Alfredo Chavez of St. Louis Sports Bar.

“I want to make a note, on record, that I have some concerns about the establishment, as well as the ownership of it,” said councilperson Cara McFerren. “Just in regard to being responsible.”

The license passed with a 3-1 vote.

During public comments, West Liberty Chamber of Commerce President Jens Zalzala addressed the council.

Zalzala thanked the city for their support during the Muscatine County Fair Parade and Picnic in the Park, before presenting a Chamber budget to council members.

“We know that the city wants organizations to become self-sustainable, and that’s definitely something we’re working towards,” said Zalzala.

“Last year, we made a lot of changes, such as reducing the director time, increased membership and increased fundraising efforts,” he said.

“This year, unfortunately, is a really tough year for us,” he said. “Our partnership with Iowa State University has ended, and that led to a lot of adjustments. One way or another, we’re going to end up in the red this year.”

In order to save on costs, the Chamber released its previous director early, and has since been operating without a director, said Zalzala. Current operations rely heavily on volunteer staff, including Priscilla Haessig.

The council had previously requested a budget before they could approve a donation to the Chamber to help cover the cost of city events. The proposed donation would be used largely to cover the cost of community events sponsored by the Chamber, said Zalzala.

Sandee Buysse-Baker, of Liberty Communications, told the council that West Liberty is the recipient of the National Telecommunications Association’s Smart Rural Community award.

“It’s a program that they have to recognize rural carriers that are trying to build robust broadband networks out into the community,” she said.

During public comments, the council acknowledged residents’ complaints that two tornado sirens in West Liberty are not working properly.

“I’ve had lots of correspondence with the county emergency management,” said City Manager Lawrence McNaul. “As of today, they said they were both lightning strikes, and they’re on the schedule to be repaired.”

The council approved a resolution to pay Ricklef’s Excavating, Ltd in the amount of $62,776.00 for the Water Treatment Plant Phase 2. Approximately $84,000 remains in retainage, said City Engineer Leo Foley. The city will withhold that payment until all finishing details, like painting, have been completed, he said.

The council approved a public hearing date for Water and Sewer Rate Changes for August 15, 2017 at 7:30 pm, as well as a work session that same evening at 6:30 pm.
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