Council approves rezoning, makes changes to policies

West Liberty welcomes new electric superintendent, talks about Well #2 and approves various upcoming events


The West Liberty City Council met Tuesday, April 2, in the West Liberty Community Center, during which members met the new electric superintendent and discussed new business.

New Electric Superintendent

To begin, Cody Franklin has been hired as the new Electric Superintendent for the City of West Liberty, just starting in the position as of Monday, April 1.

“He just started, so he’s been busy onboarding, and absorbing everything; we’ve already had some really great communication,” said City Manager Lee Geertz.

Franklin has worked for the city before and was welcomed with a round of applause during the council meeting thanks to Mayor Mark Smith.

The Utility Committee met to identify and interview applicants for a new electric superintendent back in March, filling a position that was vacated by Ed Tvrs.


Next, the council held a third and final reading, officially rezoning 35 parcels of land on the west side of North Elm St. from Railroad Park to Rainbow Drive.

The city is rezoning the area to better reflect the businesses and housing units that are already there.

Most developments in the area the last several years has not followed the current M-2 (Heavy Industrial) zoning, but rather C-2 (General Retail) guidelines.

The city aims to fix that by dividing the parcels into R-2 (Residential) and C-2 (General Retail), upon the request by the Planning and Zoning Committee and Building Inspector.

Upcoming Events

Next, the city council approved several upcoming events, including the Farmers Market, Picnic at the Park and the Fair Parade.

The Farmers Market requested its usual space on Eighth St. off of Third St. in downtown West Liberty, including eight orange cones, one trash can and access to power.

The council then approved a series of events being organized by the Chamber of Commerce for 2024.

“As you can see there are no additional requests at this time or changes from previous or past events, and they have provided their liability coverage,” said City Manager Lee Geertz. 

The Fair Parade will be held on July 14 at 2 p.m. with Picnic in the Park to follow in Kimberly Park. This will include free swimming at Kimberly Park Pool from 3-5 p.m.

In August, the West Liberty Area Arts Council (WLAAC) and Brick Street Gallery will hold live entertainment in Ron-De-Voo Park every Thursday starting around 5:30-6 p.m.

On Nov. 23-24 the Holiday Open House will occur across town with parts of streets closed down to allow for the many attractions that will be occurring, including the return of the petting zoo.

“All we’re really requesting is pretty much the same thing we’ve had the past couple of years,” said Donna Alberti on behalf of the Chamber.

City Pay

Next, the council updated the overtime policy for the West Liberty Police Department with an amendment that removes comp time and adjusts overtime pay.

“The chief has worked with his team, and they continue to go over things in order to make an attractive schedule to sustain and recruit officers,” said City Manager Geertz.

Those changes include removing comp hours (because the city no longer offers comp hours) as well as making officers eligible for overtime after 84 hours of work per pay period. 

Previously, officers didn’t start making overtime until 86 hours, so if they had to put in any extra time beyond their typical 12-hour workdays, they didn’t see any benefit.

“It’s been a large complaint,” said Chief Josh Houser, “Our officers usually work 84 hours, so when they get to 85 it would be nice to get the overtime.”

The same policy states that officers who work on established holidays shall be paid at a rate of 1.5 times the normal pay rate.

“With the current budget we can make that work with the way the numbers are looking right now, and likewise, we can set the new budget with these hours if approved,” said Geertz.

After approving the amendment, the council then approved a change in sick leave for city employees, changing it to a front-loading format instead of an accrual method.

Full-time employees will receive 64.08 hours of sick leave on Jan. 1 of each new year, rather than accruing 2.67 hours every pay period.

Well #2

Finally, the city is nearing the finish line when it comes to the revitalization of Well #2 in the West Liberty Power Plant, a $125,000 project that will result in a third well for the city. 

“Things are looking as good as far as the well is up and running, probably another couple of weeks of testing and controls,” said Leo Foley, Engineer for Veenstra & Kimm.

He told the council that they are still waiting on the installation of a control panel, one of the final pieces of the puzzle that has extended the entire project into March.

The council approved a final payment to S. G. Construction for improvements to the power plant that made rehabilitating the well possible.

Currently, West Liberty uses two wells for water supply. One is in the city water plant and the other near West Liberty Foods. Meanwhile, WL Foods uses its own well.

Once rehabilitation is complete, Well #2 will provide an additional source of water. It will be used in case of an emergency and has the potential to help the city better serve WL Foods. 

The city opted to rehabilitate the old well, considering that building a brand new well could have easily reached a $1 million price tag. Unfortunately, there is a lingering problem.

“Did want to report that the roof is still leaking,” said Foley. “It appears to be leaking through the brick.”

He’ll be working with D.C. Taylor to come up with a plan to fix the leaking, stating that if the price comes in too high, they might have to go with a mason.

In Other News…

-City Engineer Leo Foley will begin working on a west side study of West Liberty’s sanitary lines, which will aid in the development of the area in the future.

-The council approved a vendor voucher claims list (city expenditures) totaling $1,022,019.02.

-City Council Member Josh Shiltz said he has talked with Director of Public Works and Streets Adam Reinhardt about filling potholes, specifically on Miller St.

-Residents have raised concerns about water runoff on Eighth St. caused by excess dirt, City Council Member Shiltz brought the issue to the city council.

-Council Member Dana Dominguez informed the council that the Muscatine County LGBTQIA+ Equality Coalition will be holding two LGBTQIA+ Equality trainings in West Liberty on May 2 (English) and May 6 (Spanish) at the WL Community Center.

-Council Member Tim Parizek was nominated and appointed to represent the City on West Liberty’s Emergency Medical Service’s (EMS) Board.

city council, electric