The Beloit City Council met on Tuesday evening. During the work session, extended discussion was held on a pending update to the city’s dog ordinance. The debate continued due to a split among the council members on the verbiage of the future ordinance.
Some council members favor language geared toward aggressive or vicious dogs on a case by case basis, while others support a ban on specific breeds.
Councilor Andrew Grabon discussed research he has conducted, as well feedback he has received from the public on the issue. He said roughly 90 percent of respondents said they do not support a breed specific ban. He also reported that his research showed a decline in the number of city’s keeping with a breed specific ban, citing overall ineffectiveness in curbing the number of dog bite events.
Councilman Lee McMillan cited similar findings in his own research and in responses received from constituents. He said, based on these factors, that he was torn but leaning away from a breed specific ban.
Mayor Tom Naasz and Councilor Kent Miller expressed their continued support for a breed specific ban. Miller said several other cities around the area have a breed specific ban. The position of other council members was less clear. However, Councilor Matt Otte said he believes that the council will be evenly split on the issue and force a eventual tie breaker vote by the mayor.
Melody Kelso and Jason Huff, of the Pet Connection in Beloit, voiced their support of and belief in the effectiveness of a vicious dog ordinance over that of a breed specific ban. Those in favor of a vicious dog ordinance on a case by case basis expressed concerns regarding the difficulty in effectively identifying a dog’s presumed breed without genetic testing.
There are questions as to whether the city would want to undertake the cost and process of conducting genetic testing to identify specific breeds. What percentage of a dog’s genetic make-up would have them be considered a banned breed? Any percentage? Fifty-one percent or more? The issue will continue to be addressed at future meetings.
During the regular session, Rabe said runway issues are being worked out at Moritz Memorial Airport. He will be part of a conference call with engineers for the project at 10 a.m. on Friday.
The council approved Appropriations 3A including the minutes of the previous meeting as well as payments for the period of $316,576.
Rabe said a curbside cleanup grant has been applied for by the city in the amount of $5,000. Downtown sewer system work is complete. Everything went smoothly according to Rabe. He also spoke with the USDA about grant and fixed, low-rate loan possibilities to update the HVAC system at the North Campus.
He said a water testing update included good news from the February test date. Rabe said things are really starting to stabilize and show improvement due to ongoing efforts.
Work continues on the water feasibility study on the potential regional water plant east of the Glen Elder dam to be shared by the City of Beloit as well as MC2 and MC3.
The city also received a Governor’s Council on Fitness grant via the Mitchel County Regional Medical Foundation. The $10,000 grant will help fund HEAL Committee initiatives for improved infrastructure for physical activity. A grant has also been applied for to fund a scoreboard at Field 4 in the baseball park.
Safe Routes to School bids have been received back. No qualifying bids were received from local contractors, but others have been received from outside entities and are being considered.
The council approved a special event license for Kettle in Beloit to host a class reunion celebration event for the BHS Class of 1978 on Memorial Day weekend, May 26. The special license is to allow alcohol to be served outside the business in a contained area.
The council also approved the city fee schedules for 2018. Also approved was the annual contract with the Isle of Lights for the use of Chautauqua Park. Costs to the city include donating electricity. That cost has decreased over time with the change over to LED lights on many of the displays.
In the work session, Maggie Weiser, who is a coordinator for the Technical Assistance to Brownfields
program through Kansas State University, was on on-hand to answer questions about the federally funded program. Also discussed was the actual design process of the improvements once technical aspects such as soil sampling and corrective actions were completed. An example was shown of similar project work which has been performed in Clay Center. It was suggested that although the riverfront in Beloit has been the main area of focus, improvements could include downtown updates as well.
Court Street construction was then discussed moving west from Mill Street. Sidewalk changes and a five-foot drainage pipe buried 15 feet down are the main issues to be hammered out as that project moves forward. Rabe will be meeting with City Engineer Stuart Porter on Thursday. The project scope would extend just past Plum Creek Restaurant and Boettcher Supply.
The next meeting of the Beloit City Council is set for Tuesday, March 20 at 7 p.m. in the Municipal Building in Beloit.