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City Council approves moving forward with Second Street project plans

The Webster City City Council passed a motion to continue forward to the next steps with the proposed Second Street Reconstruction Project 2020 during its meeting at City Hall on Monday evening.

“As we all know, the city has made it a priority working on the proposed Second Street project for quite some time,” said City Manager Jeff Sheridan.

The city has been working with the engineering firm overseeing the project on establishing a timeline “consistent of the council and mayor’s wishes,” Sheridan said. The timeline would have the project’s final design completed by the end of the year and be prepared to accept bids for construction in early Spring 2020.

“At this point, it is in the hands of the mayor and council to make the final decision,” Sheridan said.

Sheridan and the City Financial Advisor Chip Schultz, of Northland Securities, updated the council on the fiscal impacts the project will have on the taxpayers of Webster City.

The proposed $9.14 million project would be funded through general obligation bonds, which would be paid back over the course of 15 years.

“From a timing standpoint, looking at interest rates, we wanted to simply emphasize that it’s a very favorable time in the bond market,” Schultz said. Interest rates in the bond market are very low, he said.

A property tax impact analysis produced by Northland shows the estimated tax increase local residents may see.

A residential property assessed at a value of $100,000 could see an estimated annual property tax increase of $175.52. A commercial-industrial property valued at $300,000 could see an annual tax increase of $832.61.

The Second Street Reconstruction Project 2020 is not the only major infrastructure project the city is looking at for the near future. The city is also working on plans for a new wastewater treatment plant. Both projects would happen around the same time.

While the funding for the Second Street project would come from a general obligation bond, the funding for the wastewater treatment plant would come from rate increases on sewer bills, Sheridan said.

Council member Jim Talbot voiced concerns about the plan to pay for the wastewater treatment plant project through rate increases.

“We have a lot of people on fixed incomes – Social Security is all they have – and a lot of times that doesn’t go up with cost of living,” he said. “Just a $75,000 house, that’s annually (an addition of) $131 dollars, and then hypothetically how much are we going to throw in on top of that for the waste treatment facility? I see a significant impact on a lot of households in Webster City doing both at the same time.”

Logan Welch, another council member, was also concerned about the financial impact on Webster City residents.

“I think both (projects) need to happen in the near future, and if we can make it the least amount of impact on citizens’ budgets, obviously we’re all conscious of that,” he said. “It’s quite daunting to look at it via the amount it could affect people on their budgets.”

The council moved to vote on authorizing the project’s engineering firm to complete the plans and prepare them to put out to bid. During a roll call vote, Welch, Council member Matt McKinney, Council member Brian Miller and Mayor John Hawkins all voted yes on the motion. Talbot was the lone no vote.

“‘Qualified’ no because I think there are too many open issues on the cost of the water waste, water treatment and the impact on fixed income households,” he said.

During the meeting, the city council also approved a resolution authorizing the city to enter a real estate agreement with resident Gloria Oliver for the purpose of the city purchasing Oliver’s home and property at 1236 Second St. to alleviate complications with the Second Street Reconstruction Project 2020. The house, where it currently sits, would hinder the turning of semitrucks navigating the intersection of Second Street and Beach Street after the reconstruction project makes changes in the intersection.

The city council voted to approve the resolution in which the city will purchase the property for $93,000. Hawkins said while no plans have been made yet for the house located on the property, he hopes the city will attempt to move the house to another location rather than demolish it.

The first action item on the council’s agenda this week was an update from the owners of 411 Prospect St., which was deemed a nuisance property by the city council in March. The city council gave the property owners, Brian Hubbard and Matthew Hubbard, to abate the nuisance within six months. The building was partially collapsed and the city had called it “unsafe.”

After an update from Brian Hubbard and Matthew Hubbard of the improvements they have made on the building, the city council was satisfied.

An amendment to an existing city ordinance had its second reading from the council and was passed during the meeting.

The ordinance affects Chapter 46, Article V, Section 46-206 by adding wording to eliminate parking on the east side of Des Moines Street from Fair Meadow Drive to Lewis Drive.

“The reason for this is with parking on both sides, it’s pretty tough to get emergency vehicles through that area and with senior citizen centers in both those areas, that’s pretty important,” said Ken Wetzler, Webster City public works director.

The council waived a third reading of the ordinance and unanimously passed the measure.

Hawkins opened Monday’s meeting with a moment of silence in honor of Kent Harfst, assistant city manager and recreation & public grounds director, who died on Sept. 28 at the age of 57.

“Kent began his career with the city of Webster City serving the community in 1980,” Hawkins said. “Kent dedicated his life and career to the betterment of the city of Webster City and its residents. Kent has been instrumental in a number of community-wide projects. … As a community, we are better as a whole for Kent having been a part of it. His legacy will live on forever.”

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