Council discusses proposed TNR program

Sale of city property located east of Hy-Vee approved Monday evening

—Daily Freeman-Journal photo by Adri Sietstra Webster City Fire Chief Chuck Stansfield speaks at Monday evening’s city council meeting.

The City Council of Webster City continued their discussion on the Hamilton County Animal Advocates Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) program Monday evening.

Hamilton County Animal Advocates board members Monica Becker and Tina Poland spoke to the council at their second January meeting about the possibility of starting a pilot Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) program in Webster City. The TNR program would consist of members of the HCAA taking inventory of unowned cats in a given area, setting traps with the property owner’s permission, taking the cats to the local vet to be fixed, vaccinated and ear tipped for identification, and returning the cats to the same place they were trapped.

Changes would have to be made to the city ordinances in order to allow the TNR program to take place in Webster City.

Although members of the council were in favor of the program, the return portion of the program is not in compliance with city ordinances. The main issue with the return of the cats is centered around the feeding issue, as city ordinance does not allow the feeding of feral cats.

“There is nothing in our ordinance now about trapping, neutering and releasing,” said Webster City City Attorney Zach Chizek. “From a legal standpoint I don’t have an issue with them wanting to do the program. It’s just when you get to the feeding aspect that you get into an issue.”

Chizek noted that city ordinance could be changed to allow for the program to take place, but it would require looking at methods of enforcement and other avenues.

Chizek’s other concern was enforcement of who would be allowed to feed the released cats.

The council discussed looking at the Perry city ordinances, as they allow the program but not the feeding of feral animals.

Becker, a Stratford resident, presented a similar proposal to the City of Stratford in October of 2017. The Stratford City Council approved the pilot program. However, the city of Stratford doesn’t have anything in their ordinance about feeding specifically.

The council also discussed the possibility of changing the current ordinance to accommodate the HCAA program.

Webster City City Manager Daniel Ortiz-Hernandez suggested giving the HCAA the perimeters in which the city would be able to consider the TNR program.

“If the feeding of the cats would be an issue for them and done deal, we wouldn’t have to spend anymore staff time or work with them on trying to figure out a solution if there isn’t going to be one,” said Ortiz-Hernandez.

“Ultimately we need to decide if we are going to allow the feeding of feral cats in town or not,” said Chizek.

If the council were to allow feeding, an ordinance could be drawn up by Chizek. If the council doesn’t want to allow feeding, the city could look at Perry’s ordinance for guidance.

No action was taken on the discussion topic.

A public hearing was held at 5:35 p.m. concerning the proposed purchase agreement of city-owned property located in the Dubuque and Pacific Railroad Addition. There were no written or oral objections.

This is a parcel of land which the city took possession of around 2002 for a potential project. The project never came to fruition. The parcel contains four lots totaling approximately .78 acres.

One Site Development is seeking to build a 9,000 square foot retail store on the parcel. The sale price of $75,000 will go into the General Fund.

A resolution authorizing and approving the execution of a contract for sale and purchase and an access easement agreement between the City of Webster City and One Site Development. LLC, and Iowa Company, was approved.

The council approved the appointment of Dave Engstrom to the Civil Service Commission for the unexpired term ending the first Monday in April, 2020.

A time and place for a public hearing for the 2018-2019 Capital Improvement Budget and 2018-2019 through 2022-2023 Capital Improvement Plan was set for Monday, March 5 at 5:40 p.m.

A time and place for a public hearing on the proposed 2018-2019 Budget was set for Monday, March 5 at 5:45 p.m.

The council approved a resolution directing publication of gross wage salaries for full time and part time city employees for the calendar year.

A police department work agreement for 2018-2021 was approved by the council. This agreement includes a three percent salary increase for 2018-2019 and a 2.25 percent increase for 2019-2020 and 2020-2021.

A resolution authorizing Webster City Fire Chief Chuck Stansfield to execute Mutual Aid Fire and Emergency Services Response agreement in and surrounding Hamilton County was approved by the council.

“With budgets and everything we just can’t seem to do it without each other,” said Stansfield. “It’s a very important factor. We’ve done it for years being good neighbors to all the communities we’re next to.”

The goal session report of 2018 was accepted by the council.

City councilmen Matt McKinney and Jim Talbot were absent Monday night.

The next council meeting is scheduled for Monday, March 5 at 5:30 p.m. in the council chambers.