FROM THE DESK OF THE MAYOR
Dear Citizens of Belle Plaine:
When I originally sat down to write this newsletter the temperature was in the mid-sixties and I thought I might be discussing for people to remember that we have golf carts and bikes on the road but since that point we have had one snow event and it looks like we are headed to a normal Iowa March which means we could be facing anything from a major snow storm to major rain events. Just hang in there folks spring is right around the corner and from the city budget point of view our snow removal budget was not hit very hard. On the other hand we have had a few water main issues, esp. on the corner of 10th street and 10th avenue. But even with that it has been a decent winter when compared to a few years ago where we had eleven major breaks. Hopefully we will just kind of roll out of the winter season and into the spring mowing time of year.
As long as I’m discussing budget, next week will be the council meeting (March 6) where we finalize our new budget that begins on July 1, 2017 and runs until June 30, 2018. A couple of positive things I would like to mention starting with property tax levy which will be lowered from the current $16.55 per $1,000 of taxable value to $12.38 per $1,000 for next year. (Part of this has to do with the re-financing of some of the city’s bonds.) Also out of the LOST accounts (Local Option Sales Tax) the council increased the grant to the local fireworks for the 4th of July celebration to $2,000, increased the grant to the ambulance service to $5,000, and will be creating a personal residence improvement grant fund. The details & the amounts of this program are yet to be worked out but the hope is to help out local residents who want to make some home improvements. We have attempted the past couple of years to get involved in a similar federal program from ECICOG (East Central Iowa Council of Governments) but because of competition from other communities for this program & the difficult federal requirements we have not been able to get into this program the last few years. We have business improvement grants so we thought it was time to start a similar program for home owners.
(Note it will not cover rental properties.)
Sump Pump Inspection was back in the news at the past council meeting as the clerk’s office asked the council to extend the inspection time until September 1, 2017. That will be on the agenda for the March 6 council meeting and will probably pass with very little difficulty. That being said if you own property in Belle Plaine that is connected to the city sewer system it must be inspected to make sure that your sump pump or down spouts are not connected to our sewer system. If you don’t own a sump pump & never plan to own one you still must have one of our city workers inspect your property to see that all of those items in the ordinance are legal. Once you have cleared inspection you can have this recorded with the county. I have kept putting this off because I wanted to clean and organize my basement before the water department came in to inspect. I’m just about done with the clean up so I will be getting my inspection done in the next few weeks. Again cleaning your basement or reorganizing it is not a required part of the process.
There will not be another extension past September 1.
As long as I’m mentioning sewer systems. I would almost bet at the March 6 meeting the council will approve the buying of the necessary land we need for the Ultraviolet Disinfection and Flow Equalization Basin Additions to the Belle Plaine Water Pollution Control Facility. As soon as we get the land bought & the plan approval comes back from DNR this project will be put out for bids. Hopefully we will start building sometime this summer with a late fall early winter completion date. This is one of those projects that we have been working on for so long it never seems to get anywhere. The fact is this whole process started the first month I was in office so it does seem like we have been dealing with it forever. Hopefully the next time I write about it will be at the various stages of building and that it will be in complete operation by this time next year.
Other items to note: In the very near future we will probably be putting the 2010 Charger (former police car) up for sale. The last police car now serves as the airport courtesy car and I doubt seriously that we need two courtesy cars so normally we put these up for sale. Pay attention to council meetings and city advertising when the council makes a decision on what they will do with this finely tuned police cruiser. By the way all the decals are taken off, as well as the lights, radio, etc. It no longer looks like a police car. We are waiting for new Chevy Caprice to get back from the company where all the police equipment is being installed. As another item of financial news, our new police cars are bought out of the police department’s LOST money where they set aside money every year for three years so we can replace our oldest vehicle on a regular basis and don’t have to find money in the regular city budget.
Note: the planning and zoning meeting concerning the old school property was just changed from March 13 to March 16 at the Community Center. It will be up to the Planning and Zoning Board to make a recommendation to the city council on whether this should be changed from Schools and Public Parks to either R-II or R-III. It should be further noted that it will then be up to the school district to determine how they will sell this property. The only city involvement concerns zoning, we have nothing to do with the sale of the property. The P & Z Board chose the community center for this meeting over city hall because of increased space for the public. It is an open meeting.
(I will probably not be in attendance because I believe I have a landfill commission meeting that night.)
Speaking of meetings and getting involved the city is looking for a person who is community minded to join the Benton County Development group as our city representative. (I currently serve on the executive committee by being appointed by the Benton County Board of Supervisors) We really need another representative who is outside the city government. The economic development of all of Benton County is important to Belle Plaine and if we work together as a rural county we can battle the big urban counties much better united than we can separately. Let me know if you are interested.
Remember that Daylight Savings time starts this month (March 12th)
Spring time has a lot of fund raising breakfasts, dinners, etc. going on, please get out and support the local groups. (Including other communities in the area.)
Also time to get your pets registered, each month that goes by just costs you more!
Two great basketball seasons are done & one great wrestling season. If you missed the kids play this year then you missed some great young people from BPHS. Hey catch some action this spring or summer and see what our young people are doing.
I can’t wait to see what Franklin Park looks like with the new lights.
As always “Go Plainsmen.” Remember it is up to all of us to make
Belle Plaine the best hometown in Iowa!
Mayor Dave Fish