$294,000 in grants requested
RIVERSIDE — The Riverside City Council discussed many things at last night’s meeting but the majority was spent discussing the grant applications that will be submitted to the Washington County Riverboat Foundation (WRCF) later this month.
The city will be asking the foundation for $294,000. The items they are asking money for range from replacing the equipment in the ballpark concession stand, to buying three desktop computers for the Riverboat Room at city hall, funding for adult recreational activities year-round, replacing all 519 water meters so that they are lead free, the Riverside Fire Department’s grant application for fire training house that would be used to teach kids how to escape from a fire, and funding for the Riverboat Blues Fest, which has a tentative date set for May 18.
Two city councilors, Chris Kirkwood and Nate Kasdorf, pointed out more documentation is needed for the grants the city is applying for.
“I would like to see more documentation,” Kirkwood said. “I have no information.”
This came up after City Administrator Rusty Rogerson told the city about the grant application for the three computers. Kirkwood and Kasdorf said they didn’t receive the information about the grants until late Friday evening. Both said they were out of town over the weekend so they didn’t have time to review the information.
“We need the information before the meeting,” he said. “If you give it to us at the meeting it does us no good.”
Rogerson didn’t agree with Kasdorf’s suggestion. Rogerson said he had given the councilors the same information that the previous city administration had in the past.
Mayor Bill Poch agreed with Rogerson.
“We’ve talked about this previously,” Poch said. “Essentially, he could give us all the information in the world and we’ll miss something. I suggest you come in and see him if you have questions.”
Kasdorf stated he goes to work in the morning at 6:30 a.m. Rogerson said he is usually at city hall after hours and Kasdorf could call him.
Rogerson went on to specify to the council that these were just grant applications the city was applying for and if the grants weren’t approved the city didn’t have to proceed with the items.
Kasdorf asked for further explanation about the application for the funding of the Y program.
“I’m asking the foundation for funding for a year-round program for adults,” Rogerson said. “It would begin this coming August and this is to just feel out the foundation.”
Kasdorf took issue with the amount requested for the matching funds from the city.
“Forty-one thousand dollars is a chunk of change,” he said. “It scares me.”
Rogerson reiterated to the council that the city had nothing to lose when applying for the grants and the Washington Community Y would support the recreational program.
“The foundation has a history of not approving operations for programs,” Kirkwood said. “I don’t think we’ll get this money.”
During citizen comments, Larry Simon asked the city council if there were any plans to work on the water system for the west side of town.
“I give my dog bottled water now because he refuses to drink the city water,” Simon said. “I’ve always been told that, yep, it’s next on the list. Do you have any idea when?”
Several of the city counsilors agree with Simon that something needs to be done.
“It’s something that needs to be looked at,” said councilmember Bob Schneider Jr. “We need to bite the bullet and have it done.”
Rogerson also updated the council on the Riverboat Blues Fest he is working on. There will be a grant application sent over to WRCF. Several groups in the community have committed volunteer hours and services to the city.
“This will be after prom and before graduation,” Rogerson said. “The Y will organize a walk/run on the trail that morning.”
Poch praised Rogerson for the work he has already done on the event. Kasdorf wanted to know what would happen if the application were declined for the Riverboat Blues Fest.
“I’ll come back to the council with other options,” Rogerson said. “To plan an event like this there are expenses before the event happens. I’m not going to drop the ball on this.”
Kirkwood isn’t sure this event should be a priority for the city to put on.
“This would be a great idea but a lot of work,” Kirkwood said. “I’m more concerned about the priorities the council agreed upon like Larry’s water main.”
Schneider didn’t agree with Kirkwood’s sentiment.
“Rusty’s project will show us what he’s capable of down the road,” Schneider said. ”We haven’t seen this type of involvement from the city staff before.”
Poch reminded the attendees at the meeting that the state of Iowa mandates that 50 percent of the hotel/motel tax be spent toward economic development and tourism, which is where some of the money for this event would come from. He then asked the council for a vote about the grant application. Everyone but Kirkwood approved the motion.
Toward the end of the council meeting things got a little heated between Kirkwood and councilor Ralph Schnoebelen over the city’s purchasing policy.
“For services, some of those things need to be in writing,” Kirkwood said. “I am very nervous to pass a bill when I have no idea what it’s for.”
This issue goes back to when the city had assistance from a third party to reconcile bank accounts. Rogerson said he accepted full responsibility for this.
“I apologize,” he said. “I should have come to you. Let’s stop beating a dog over this.”
Schnoebelen interjected that people need to move on. There were a few more comments from the councilors about the purchasing policy.
“I agree with the services part,” Schneider said. “We need to know the amount beforehand.”
Poch took control of the meeting and asked if there was a motion to have the purchasing policy reviewed by the city attorney. Kirkwood made the motion and all but Schnoebelen approved to the motion.
In other business the council:
approved the city’s budget for the fiscal year 2014. There was a public hearing at 7 p.m. but there were no citizens who wanted to comment on this.
Discussed the Mast Lease for a city sign to be put on their property. Kasdorf motioned for “the fuzzy parts of the lease to be cleared up.” One of the arguments made by some councilors was that there wasn’t an early out clause for the city if they wanted to not use the full 20-year lease. Schneider motioned to have the early out clause put into the lease but that motion failed with Kasdor, Kevin Kiene, and Kirkwood voting no. The motion for “the fuzzy parts of the lease to be cleared up” was approved by the councilors.
Discussed the possibility of annexing Boise Court into the city
Awarded the contract of the flooring for the Riverboat Room.
Approved residential grant requests from Eric Smith, Don Latta, Scott Vanschoyck, Nate Robinson, and Richard Duder for the amount of $15,587.
Approved the motion to get pre-wiring bids for city hall for Proximity Cards/Cameras
The next city council meeting will be held at city hall on March 18 at 6:30 p.m.