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Amendments to nuisance codes pass; questions raised over prison force main project

During Monday night’s regular meeting of the Newton City Council, it was not the recently hot topic of amendments to the nuisance code that attracted the most discussion, but rather a project involving the extension of a force main from the prison’s plumbing system.

Aptly named the Prison Force Main Extension Project, the extension of a force main will help to alleviate some of the odor caused by the sewer near the intersection of W. Fourth St. S. and S. 20th Ave. W.

During the public hearing portion of the meeting, Larry Beard spoke with concern for what the project would actually accomplish.

“I live at 1924 west 4th St. S. and 20th Ave., and what you’re proposing will not solve the problem,” Beard said. “We had this stink before the prison was put on there (the sewer system) and if you take it off, you’re still going to have the stink. I’ve been lied to since the day the prison was put on the sewer. I live there and I’ve been there for 30 years … I hate to see you spend the money that’s not going to do any good.”

Public Works Director Keith Laube explained that the money for the project would actually be furnished elsewhere, and gave a bit of insight into how the extension will conceptually operate.

“Extending this prison force main … will be paid by the Department of Corrections,” Laube said. “The city, it’s not costing them any money since we’ll be reimbursed for the project.”

“Where the prison joins our sewer system – that’s where the gas is escaping,” councilor DJ Julius remarked, noting that he had, on many occasions, spoken with Beard regarding his concerns. “There’s no guarantee with anything we do, but I’m sure you (Laube) feel comfortable that the gas is escaping where the prison joins our current system.”

“The correctional facility is a force main that covers four to five miles,” Laube said. “(The correctional facility and the southwest lift station) are force mains that dump into a gravity sewer system. Typically, when you go from a force main situation to a gravity sewer situation you can release odors. There may be an occasion where you’re going to have an odor but it’ll be less than it is now … there’ll definitely be a difference.”

“As Mr. Mullan stated, it’s not getting any better out there,” Julius added.  “So hopefully this will, in your assessment, reduce that.”

The council voted to award the bid for the project to SL Baumeir Co. LLC in Gladbrook, Iowa, for $103,860.

Additionally, the council clarified the proposed amendments to the 2012-2013 budget as it pertained to nine specific state programs. As outline in the budget, total revenue amendments totaled $1,627,588 while total expenditure amendments totaled $3,383,709.

Councilor Julius asked Director of Finance and Development and Acting City Administrator Bryan Friedman to explain exactly what the amendments mean for the the fiscal year budget.

I noticed that in this amendment, there’s explanations on revenue amendments and expenditure amendments and the difference between those two is $1,756,000,” Julius said. “Would we not be then reducing our reserve to cover those expenditures and, if that were the case, … would we not be below the .25 percent that we initiated for ourselves?”

“That’s not the case,” Friedman replied. “The manipulations with budget amendments have to do with how the state wants us to account for things. A million dollars worth of the amendments represent transfers between funds that don’t affect the bottom line or dipping into our reserves. Those changes in expenditures, in many cases, are offset by changes in revenue or the transfer process.”

Following the discussion, the council voted unanimously to approve the budget.

In other business, the council:

- approved the consent agenda, which, in effect, approved liquor licenses for several businesses in Newton, all aspects of the 2013 Sanitary Landfill Liner Sand Project and the 2013 Apron Improvements Project at the Newton Municipal Airport, awarded contracts for the 2013 City-Wide HMA Pavement Rehabilitation Project and the 2013 Sanitary Sewer Repair Discharge Removal Work, and approved the Downtown SSMID Watering and Sidewalk Weeding contact. To this end, councilor Noreen Otto commented: “I know that they’re just getting started, but I did want to comment that I hope this is just the first of many things we see. I hope we’re contemplating moving toward some other uses of those funds (aside from just downtown plant watering).”

- heard from a concerned citizen regarding parking along W. Sixth St. S. near H.A. Lynn Field. She explained that the parking regulations from W. Eighth Ave. S. to W. Tenth Ave. S. make it difficult for her and her neighbors to back out of their driveways and requested there be no street parking allowed. The council agreed to submit her request to staff for research.

- held a public hearing on the resolution awarding the contract for the Water Pollution Control Facility Tank Mechanism Rehabilitation Project. There were no comments from those in attendance. Per the request of the council, Laube addressed the $308,500 bid from VanNevel Coatings, Victor, Iowa, noting that it was $600,000 below the initial engineer’s estimate. “Everything checked out, and they’ve done good work in the city in the past,” Laube said of VanNevel. The council voted unanimously to pas the resolution.

- held a public hearing on the resolution awarding the contract for the 2013 Pavement Joint Sealing Project regarding the required maintenance of Iowa Speedway Dr., Rusty Wallace Dr. and surrounding roads, all initially paved in 2006. There were no comments from those in attendance; the council voted unanimously to pass the resolution to award the contact to Illowa Investment, Inc. of BlueGrass for $84,738.30.

- passed a resolution amending the City of Newton Code of Ordinances by replacing Title 2, Chapter 13, Articles 1 and 2 with new code language involving the city’s enforcement of nuisances. Otto commented that amending the ordinance was an effective way to “get after the more difficult and irksome problems ... that have a negative impact on the appearance of the city.” The amendment passed by unanimous vote.

- approved resolutions extending the intergovernmental agreement for the construction of the Newton Correctional Facility Force Main Extension from 18 months to 36 months as well as authorizing the purchase of fireworks for the Fourth of July show from J&M Displays.

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