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Mayor’s May Newsletter

FROM THE DESK OF THE MAYOR

Dear Citizens of Belle Plaine:

I will remind all residents if you have concerns or problems that deal with the city, please feel free to come to city hall and talk to me about them or simply pick up the phone & call me!

 Our first Capital Improvements Open House on April 14 at the Community Center was lightly attended.  I do thank all those who did find the time to attend and I thought the questions that we answered were well thought out & very much applied to what we are trying to do.  Over the time period from 2016 through 2022 we will incrementally doing projects that will fix water and waste water infrastructure (system) that is many decades old and in some cases is nearing 100 years in service.  Some of our projects will be of the replacement variety and some are simply state mandated (DNR).  We are not bonding for these projects but will be borrowing the money from the state revolving fund and paying them back with user fees.  This will be a user driven fee schedule thus the more water & sewer product you use the more it will cost you.

Year one of the project plan is planned for $25,000 in valve replacement, $11,000 in hydrant replacement, erasing a $115,000 water fund deficit that was created two years ago with all the water line breaks we suffered, $10,000 in televising sewer lines looking for leaks & problems, $55,000 in lining sewer mains, & the start of a $3,000,000 storm water basin (lagoons at the sewer plant) & the addition of ultraviolet disinfection at the sewer plant.  (We do have $600,000 in grant money for the DNR ordered changes at the sewer plant.)

 Phase One will see a $1.00 per 1,000 gallons for water & sewer fees in the city of Belle Plaine.  Thus you will go from $4.98 to $5.98 per 1,000 gallons of water & from $4.98 to $5.98 per 1,000 gallons of sewer starting on July 1, 2016.  If that first phase is compared to our neighbors we will still be considerably cheaper and by the time we get through with phase two & three we will still have cheaper water & sewer rates than our neighbors currently pay.  I could attempt to explain this all the way through 2021 but I will leave that until another time.  I might suggest that you attend the May 11 meeting for a detailed explanation or at least stop at city hall & pick up a copy of the handout that we are using at these meetings.

I will also assure you that every year that has a new major project to be done in it we will be applying for federal & state grant money that applies to those types of projects.  If you think that anyone in my office or on the city council enjoys adding this financial burden to the citizens of Belle Plaine you are kidding yourself.  I myself live on a fixed income just like most of the other senior citizens of Belle Plaine.  At the same time we are exploring what projects must be done; we are also looking at places to cut the budget. 

 “A mock accident was staged at the entrance to the high school yesterday with the Benton County Sheriff’s office, Belle Plaine Police dept., Belle Plaine Ambulance, Belle Plaine Fire dept., and LifeGuard Helicopter service involved.”  I took this off of face book and I thank all the groups involved especially those who are volunteers who took their time to do this demonstration for our students.  As a retired teacher I know the best way to teach is with an actual experience & the mock crash demonstrations used around the country are one of the best items to teach students about what can happen to really ruin a prom week-end.  I thank all who were involved.  The challenge I give the community is we worry about prom week end in every school in this nation but as teachers, parents, & individuals what are we doing to make every week end a safe week end for our teenagers, not just this one special one that comes around every spring.

 This possibly is the place to start! “If anyone is interested in doing more in our communities to create empowered youth to make healthy life decisions consider joining the Benton County Above the Influence Coalition. We need community support to make changes and provide opportunities for our youth. There is a South County committee that meets the 4th Tuesday of the month from 6-7pm at First Congregational.”

I’ve become aware this past month on some city issues that led me to believe that the public has been misinformed on. That being said if you have some serious concerns about how the City should be running the Aquatic Center please contact a member of the Park & Recreation Board &/or the Park & Recreation Director with those concerns.  The City council is not directly in charge of the Center & what the council was looking last month was possible ways to cut our expenses at the pool.  As we do budget reviews in the next six months we will be looking for ways to cut our total city budget.   We get an annual report from the Park & Recreation department & this year the council was simply looking for ways to improve the budget.  If you have some serious concerns or ideas for improvement please contact the correct officials.  Yes I was one of those kids who lived at the pool in the late 50’s & early 60’s so I do know how important the pool is to Belle Plaine.  Also to those who have contacted me about an indoor pool, I’m afraid that ship has sailed & I don’t see that as an affordable item for the city in the near future.

Please be aware that we do have criminals who are actively looking to break into cars.  Please don’t help them by leaving valuable items in your car that they can see like cell phones, lap top computers, cash, & recreational items.  Also please lock your car & if you have a break in or vandalism please call our police department so you can file a report for insurance purposes & it makes the city aware of criminal activity that is happening in Belle Plaine.  With only one officer on duty it is impossible for them to be everywhere all the time!

 The police department has told me to date there have been 18 abatement orders issued to property owners for nuisance violations. These range from junk vehicles, scrap metal and appliances, to general garbage accumulation. Nuisance abatement is an ongoing process. Remember the abatement process only moves as fast as the court system will allow it to move.  The City can’t just simply charge in & clean up a property.  Property owners’ rights still take priority!  Please avoid the hassle and everyone do their part in cleaning up their property. 

The City Council is exploring some options to help with the city environment.  No we are not doing a city wide clean up like the old days.  We are not doing that because primarily you can get any type of major junk picked up by Johnson County Refuse every Friday.  If the item you want to get rid of isn’t on the list then just call Johnson County & ask them how many stickers it will take to dispose of it or call city hall & we can figure it out.  The first area of cleanup we are looking at will be some type of chemical clean up (paint, weed killer, etc.).  I will have more details in the future.  So if the residents cooperate, if we all use Johnson County Refuse Inc. (319-665-4498)  & the city does something about chemicals we should have a good start. 

The warning sirens were tested & they all work.  Remember these are outdoor sirens & they are not designed to shake you up if you’re inside your house.  To be truthful that’s why it is important to have a storm warning radio!  More about sirens in the future.

State sidewalk project on highway 21 is underway; be prepared for those people to be with us most of the summer.  In some situations they may cause delays and detours!  Be patient!

Good luck to the track teams & the golf squad as they get ready for the SICL meets & their regional tournaments.  Hope it was a great & safe prom!

Congratulations graduating class of 2016.

 I heard that you were ranked #2, right after the class of 68!   

 

As always “Go Plainsmen.” Remember it is up to all of us to make

Belle Plaine the best hometown in Iowa!

 

 Mayor Dave Fish – May 2016

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