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Mayor’s March Newsletter

FROM THE DESK OF THE MAYOR

Dear Citizens of Belle Plaine:

 

IS IT SPRING YET????? I KNOW I’M READY FOR IT!

 

Let us start this with some positive items.  Thanks to ECICOG we have added a used cell phone & cell phone battery-recycling box to City Hall.  If you need to get rid of any of those items just bring them in & follow the instructions.  If you need help just ask one of the city employees!

 

City Hall is now open until 6:00 pm on City Council meeting nights.  That generally would be the first & the third Mondays of the month.   It gives everyone an extra hour to get that water bill paid or those dog/cat licenses.  Remember you can always drop off your water bill in the outside drop box!

 

Our first attempt at a Saturday opening to catch a number of the last minute cat/dog license before the first penalty was added was a huge success & something we will explore in the future. Remember if you have not taken care of your pet license right now would be a good time to get it done!

 

While driving thru Main Street a couple of Saturday nights ago when the “American Sniper” was showing at the King Theater I noticed at least seven different county license plates among the many cars that were near the theater.  I also noticed that Sunday it was a similar situation & then it was announced that the movie would be held over for another week.  First kudos to Steve Mansfield & his staff for running a first class operation & giving Belle Plaine something that so many small towns simply no longer have, “a local movie theater with current run movies”!  Second what a local gem for Belle Plaine to have & how nice it is for this legendary theater to still be a part of our active businesses! Third, it is obvious the people of Belle Plaine do recognize, as do the outlying counties what a good job the King Theater is doing for everyone.  This is not the first time Main Street has been packed for three showings of a movie. I do not have any facts but the economic stimulus that this provides for other BP businesses is another important part of the BP economic structure.  Congratulations to Steve & the rest of the King Theater crew for the service that you provide our community & to the residents of Belle Plaine for recognizing a quality home grown business and for shopping local. (By the way your Mayor once worked for the theater when in Junior High I use to travel to other towns to hand out theater bills to the homes.   As I remember the pay was free movie passes so I could then spend my allowance at the concession stand!)

 

I believe we have every city committee position filled at this time.  I will be double-checking this with the city clerks & if that is not true, we will get it fixed.  I TRULY WANT TO THANK ALL THE BELLE PLAINE RESIDENTS WHO STEPPED UP & ACCEPTED THE POSITIONS WHEN WE PUT OUT THE NOTICE THAT WE HAD OPENINGS OR TO ALL THOSE RESIDENTS I CONTACTED WHO GRATUFULLY ACCEPTED THE APPOINTMENT WHEN I ASKED THEM.  WE WILL BE LOOKING FOR MORE IN THE FUTURE.

 

I CAN ALSO SAY THERE ARE MANY GROUPS WHO CAN USE MORE VOLUNTEERS RANGING ALL THE WAY FROM BPCDC TO THE PARTNERS FOR BEAUTIFICATION TO THE ATHLETIC BOOSTER CLUB & OTHER GROUPS.  YOU DO NOT ALWAYS HAVE TO BE A MEMBER TO WORK FOR A GROUP.  THAT IS WHAT MAKES SMALL TOWN IOWA & THE MIDWEST SO GREAT:

 IT IS HOW WE APPROACH VOLUNTEERING.

 

Economic activity continues at the old Benco building which is plus for Belle Plaine. This one is a reality & will be in operation in the future.  We have had a serious inquiry about the new Benco building with contacts made to the state economic authority & Benton Development as well as the City of Belle Plaine. 

More news on this as soon as inquiries lead to real economic activity.

 

Just some notes from a previous council meeting:

 

Yes, we are renting the old clinic building to Unity Point as they have requested.  It will take care of all the costs of the building & it’s up keep for the next year as they make decisions on whether they want to use it for specialty clinics.  It does not prevent us from looking for some other business to go into it.  If another medical provider showed up on our doorstep & was serious about the building, we would take a serious look at their offer.  We are trying to keep our options open & in the future keep this as a medical building because that is what the citizens of Belle Plaine raised the money for back in the early 70’s.   We will take a strong look at this situation in the future & definitely try to do what is best for Belle Plaine.  Inthis day of corporate decisions, I would hate to sell the building for a different purpose & somehow end up with no building that we could use for medical purposes.  If you have concerns with what we are doing please express them to me or to the council.  I believe the council thoughts on this were we did not want the building to sit empty & for the city to have another financial drain on our budget.  With this lease, it is an economic win for the city!

 

Yes, our new budget is balanced & it does call to add a fifth officer to our police department.  Yes, there is some tax increase but most of that is created by the state legislature who has cut commercial property tax & did not replace it to the city governments. [At least at the time I am writing this they have not!]  Also the costs of Hanson Building & the Main Street project that we had to pay for because the state of Iowa failed to come through with historic tax credit money that they promised us we could get for the original project. Moreover, the road use money cuts we have faced due to a declining population. Also if you add in last winter’s road clearing expenses & the water main breaks.  Even with that we have decided to add a fifth officer because of all the overtime we have paid out & based on our cost analysis it will cost us around $12,000 more than what we already spend.  What will it do for the city of Belle Plaine?  We feel it will stabilize our police department by guaranteeing their days off on a regular basis, save us overtime pay when we have officers who are out sick or on vacation, add greater safety to our officers when they need to call in a back up or face a situation that should have multiple officers, give us the opportunity to have two officers on duty when we really should have more than one on patrol (special occasions), and hopefully allow our police department to do more activities with the grade school & middle school concerning anything from stranger danger to drug & alcohol education.  I see it as a win/win because with only a four person staff we are going to spend almost the same budget with a huge portion spent in overtime pay.  If we do not like what we see, it can be changed in the future.

 

Baseball diamonds: I will try to keep this simple.  There is no way this former little leaguer will allow the city to not have a place for all our T-Ball, little league & softball players to play.   Any time you are dealing with government purchases, it is a slow process. Remember there are three elected bodies dealing with this issue:  school board, park board, & city council thus it slows down the process a little bit. The one item I do want the public to know is the City of Belle Plaine began inquiring about this property in September of 2014 and is actively pursuing negotiations with the school. Therefore, any concept that the city has not shown interest in this property is simply not the case.  We will get this deal finalized before its time for little league practice to start!

 

To close this off with a  major positive thru our financial advisor we are going to refinance several of our present bonds to a lower interest rate & the net savings over the course of those bonds will be somewhere in the range of $120,000 to $125,000.  Definitely a solid idea! 

 

Congratulations to Joey Schwenn on his fifth place finish in the state wrestling tournament.  In addition, congratulations to the Lady Plainsmen on their successful season & tournament run esp. their upset of Iowa Valley in the districts.  Congratulations to the Plainsmen boys’ basketball team on their first SICL title in 39 years & to my knowledge being the first BP basketball team to qualify for the state basketball tournament.  It has been a great winter season for all the sports teams at Belle Plaine Junior-Senior High.  Now it is off to state for the boys & bring on the spring sports.

Also good luck to all the speech contest participants!

 

AS ALWAYS “GO PLAINSMEN”.  REMEMBER IT IS UP TO ALL OF US TO MAKE BELLE PLAINE THE BEST HOMETOWN IN IOWA!

 

Dave Fish-March 2015

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