Council reviews joint plan, meets new intern
KALONA — Kalona council members briefly reviewed a joint venture proposed last year between the city and the Mid-Prairie School District, affirming the city’s interest in partnering with the district. The discussion came at the council meeting, held an hour early, to allow City Administrator Ryan Schlabaugh to attend the special M-P meeting at 7 p.m.
Schlabaugh told the council that “it is a very preliminary plan right now,” referring to the concept for a Kalona Community Center in conjunction with a Mid-Prairie gym at the district’s middle school site. Estimated bond issue for the proposed Kalona center is $2.5 million, he noted, explaining that Kalona’s debt limit is $7,854,835 with a current outstanding debt of $880,000.
“Right now that’s a debt capacity of 11.2 percent,” he said.
The proposed project would be financed with a bond, local option sales and service tax revenue and privage funds, he said. The latter could include possible grant(s) from the Washington County Riverboat Foundation or even Vision Iowa, he said.
Mid-Prairie is planning a bond issue election in April; Kalona could not do one until September at the earliest.
Schlabaugh said that what decisions would be made at the board meeting Monday likely would affect Kalona’s plans.
Vanessa Fixmer-Oraiz, newest addition to the city’s staff, was introduced by Jody Bailey, the city’s regional/urban planner, who said Fixmer-Oraiz, will aid the English River Watershed Management Authority (ERWMA) projects. ERWMA received in December a $150,000 grant from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources to help with administrative and planning costs. It also received grants from Hills Bank, Freedom Security Bank and the Riverside Casino and Golf Resort to aid with the intern’s wages. The new intern,a graduate research fellow at the University of Iowa’s School of Urban and Regional Planning, was a Fulbright Scholar in 2011-12 who conducted research in the Philippines.
In other business, the council:
•approved the purchase of a $5,698 sander to be used on one of its 3/4 ton trucks to aid with road ice. Schlabuagh explained the city mixes it sand and salt road treatments;
•learned it received is final $211,000 payment of a $1,050,000 grant from the Washington County Riverboat Foundation (WCRF) for downtown revitalization;
•discussed a Highway 1 turning lane into the Harvest Hill subdivision regarding a commercial property development. The Highway 1 frontage at Harvest Hill is zoned commercial. The Iowa DOT “is agreeable to any change on Highway 1, but will not fund them,” said Schlabaugh. Recent cost of a similar lane, south of Kalona was $700,000 for a production facility there. The commercial business is a Dollar General store and Schlabaugh noted the city should provide for some other future commercial businesses there; and
•received a preliminary audit of the city for review.