The Beloit City Council conducted their first meeting of 2017 at on Tuesday, January 3. Councilman Matt Otte was absent. Also in attendance was Mayor Tom Naasz, City Administrator Jason Rabe, City Attorney Katie Schroeder, and City Clerk Amanda Lomax.
The council approved the consent agenda including $297,225 in accounts payable for the period. The council also approved the purchase of a 2017 Dodge Charger police package cruiser. The vehicle will be paid for in the amount of $24,805 on a three year lease-purchase through Solomon Valley Bank from Beloit Auto and Truck Plaza.
Mayor Naasz opened the meeting by commenting that the Isle of Lights was well attended once again, and that all the displays were quickly disassembled and put away. He thanked the city crews for their assistance in the process.
A public hearing was held regarding the Neighborhood Revitalization program. The consideration was for renewal of the program through October 1 of 2019. The program includes the temporary tax abatement allowances which have been utilized by many residents for new construction. Those tax abatements have had a key impact on overall capital growth in the city and the county as a whole. With no public comments being made, the hearing was adjourned. The council then approved Ordinance 2201 which renewed the Neighborhood Revitalization program by a 6-0 vote.
A bid of $71,636 was approved to purchase a Vac-Tron Hydrovac from Great Plains Vermeer. The city recently purchased a Vermeer trencher and boring machine. The diesel powered hydrovac is the second piece needed to work safely on underground electric utilities. The machine moves soil as it is dug by the trencher/borer. This machine give the city the ability to perform the vast majority of underground utility work without the need for services of an outside contractor and will provide an estimated savings to the city of approximately $57,000 annually.
In the work session, City Administrator Jason Rabe updated the council on the mobile water plant testing which continues at Waconda Lake. He said the results are very promising to this point. He believes the testing will conclude within the next two weeks.
Rabe said a meeting will be conducted with a citizen’s group on the evening of January 5 to continue the dialogue about how to move forward with improvements to the West Side Park. The project is being spearheaded by the local Rotary Club.
A detailed discussion was held regarding the pending transition of the city government from a four ward, eight member council to a two ward, six member council. One plan to combine the first and second wards into one district and wards three and four into the second district seemed most plausible.
Current voter registration indicates Ward 1 has 425 voters, and Ward 2 has 672 voters for a combined total of 1,097 voters in the new ward.
Current voter registration indicates Ward 3 has 700 voters, and Ward 4 has 536 voters for a combined total of 1236 voters in the new ward.
A number of plans were discussed regarding length of terms for the new councilors from the two wards and a way to implement the plan. City Attorney Katie Schroeder said her plans was to have all the details worked out and approved by the Council by April 1. This would allow candidates to file for election by the deadline date of June 1, 2017. In the November 2017 election, two seats on the council would be removed from the council and another two seats would be up for election.
The top vote recipients from Ward 1 and Ward 2 would win council seats if that is the plan the city moves to adopt when finalized. The elected officials would take office at the first council meeting of 2018. More details on future ramifications and procedure changes will be clarified as the process moves forward.
Rabe also presented a five year Capital Improvement Plan for Moritz Memorial Airport. The suggested improvements are based on recommendations by Benesch Engineers of Manhattan. The recommendations include plans to install a parallel taxiway to the runway. The runway currently serves as a taxiway as well. The costs associated with the improvement total approximately $665,000 with 90 percent paid by the Federal Aviation Administration and 10 percent by the city.
It was also announced that meetings will be held in the Council Meeting room on Wednesday, January 4 to discuss the Safe Routes to School Program. These routes will be along Fourth Street and Twelfth Streets. The meeting for property owners along Twelfth Street will be conducted from 6:00 p.m. to 6:45 p.m. Following that meeting will be a meeting for property owners along 4th Street from 7:00 pm to 7:45 pm. The meetings intended to answer any questions about the project and for concerns to be addressed. Those with questions, who are unable to attend, are encouraged to call Jason Rabe at 534-3439.
Rabe also announced that he is working with Director of Systems Operation Ron Sporleder, Mike Schmaderer of Mid-States Energy Works and others to make improvements to the city’s electrical circuits to provide more reliable and consistent power with fewer interruptions in service such as that which recently took place on Thanksgiving Day. The estimated cost associated with the purposed improvements is $500,000 over the next two to three years.