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Equipment needs and the future of the city’s recycling service were on the minds of the Mount Ayr city council at their regular meeting Monday, October 19.
In a discussion carried over from the previous council meeting, city superintendent Brent Wise presented costs associated with repairing or replacing the city’s backhoe as well as a potential plan to budget for new equipment purchases in next year’s budget.
With winter fast approaching, the dilemma facing the council is whether to replace the engine on the aging backhoe used for snow removal.
Wise offered an estimate of over $16,000 to repair the unit, which has already sustained over $31,000 in repairs since 2015.
Wise presented a quote of over $123,000 for a new backhoe, an amount he said was not budgeted for in this year’s financial plan.
In comparison, a new wheel loader could replace the backhoe. This unit could be fitted with attachments such as a four-way bucket that could also be used with the city’s skid loader. The estimated cost of $81,000 for wheel loader, however, was still unaccounted for in this year’s budget.
To replace the backhoe’s digging capacity, Wise included an estimate for a mini-excavator at nearly $56,000, an amount again not included in the current budget.
Wise presented a sample long-term plan through which the city could budget for the needed equipment beginning in the next fiscal year.
It was noted in the discussion that the city may be forced to rent certain equipment and/or hire contractors to handle at least some of snow removal through this winter with major equipment purchases delayed until the next fiscal year.
Prior to making a final decision on equipment needs, the council asked Wise to determine the value of a repaired backhoe and report back at the November 2 council meeting.
Superintendent Wise shared the results of the survey of city residents concerning the future of recycling in the city.
At a prior council meeting, Wise had reported that Midwest Sanitation and Recycling of Oskaloosa, the contractor that receives the city’s recycling refuse, planned to increase its fee by approximately $10,000 per year. That increase would bring the total cost of recycling to nearly $38,000 including city wages and equipment to pick up the recycled items.
According to the survey results, 67 percent of city residents supported an increase of approximately $1.50-$2.25 on their monthly garbage service rate to maintain the service.
It was noted that when the recycling service was first offered in 2013, the contractor at that time took the refuse at no charge. But when the bottom dropped out of the market for recycled items, costs to the city have risen steadily since that time.
The council debated whether it was fiscally responsible to continue offering recycling. Elimination of the service altogether would result in a $14,000 saving overall once city labor and equipment maintenance were taken into consideration.
Councilman Brent Ricker moved to discontinue the service, but the motion died for lack of a second.
Wise then said he could approach Midwest Sanitation to see if they would be willing to lower their intended fee increase. He said he would report back to the council at their next meeting.
In other business, the council:
• heard a complaint from resident Dustin Wiley about a bill he had received for the city’s mowing of his property at 707 E. Adams Street.
Wiley said he thought the amount of $530 for three months was “a little high” and asked the council to consider reducing it.
Mayor Steve Fetty said the city ordinance about nuisance abatements specified the costs associated with mowing and added the council would need to amend the ordinance to address any change to Wiley’s bill.
The council took no action in that direction.
Wiley said he would now consider taking the issue to small claims court.
• appointed Wise to a three-year term as the city’s commissioner on the Southern Iowa Regional Housing Authority.