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Hiring a new city clerk and deputy clerk, equipment purchases, and further discussion on recycling were highlights of the Monday, December 7 regular meeting of the Mount Ayr city council.
At their November 16 meeting, the council had approved the hiring of Amanda Cannon as the new city clerk to replace long-time clerk Pam Poore, who is retiring effective January 1.
Cannon is the current deputy clerk.
At that meeting, however, a salary for Cannon had not been set.
At Monday’s meeting, the council acted on a recommendation from Paul Greufe, the city’s contracted human resource advisor, to set Cannon’s salary at $26.97 per hour.
In a subsequent action, Katie Dukes was hired as deputy city clerk at a salary of $14.50. Dukes currently serves as board secretary and secretary to the president at Southwestern Community College in Creston.
City administrator Brent Wise reported that he was pleasantly surprised at the number and quality of the applicants the city had received for that position, noting he and Cannon had interviewed seven candidates.
After a review of a proposed repayment schedule presented by Wise, the council voted to move forward with the preliminary steps to securing a debt service loan for four new equipment purchases.
Under the proposal by Wise, the city would borrow approximately $300,000 to purchase a new Case wheel loader, Bobcat mini-excavator, Peterbilt dump truck, and Chevy or GMC one-ton pickup truck.
Repayment for the proposed purchases would be spread over five years at an approximately $62,700 per year via a general obligation loan.
Wise noted a current equipment loan would be retired in June, thus freeing up approximately $34,000 per year, an amount that could be used toward repayment of the new loan.
The council authorized the firm of Dorsey and Whitney, the city’s bonding attorneys, to oversee the process to secure the funding.
In the public forum portion of Monday’s meeting, city resident Darin Dolecheck asked the council to reconsider its recent decision to stop its recycling service.
Dolecheck cited a recent survey that revealed 62 percent of respondents supported retaining the service even if that service came with higher fees.
Wise explained that the main reason for suspending the service came as a result of significantly higher fees from the company contracted to dispose of the city’s recycled products.
Wise said the recycling contractors can no longer find a market for their collected materials, so the business find it difficult to operate without increased fees.
Wise added, however, he intends to ask the board that oversees the Wayne-Ringgold-Decatur landfill if funds collected in the landfill’s environmental fund could be distributed to the patrons of the landfill to offset increased recycling costs.
Wise also floated an idea that the landfill site could be used as a central collection location for all area recycling, thus possibly reducing charges for separate trips by the contractor to different towns.
Dolecheck also asked if residents who want to continue the recycling service could be charged an extra fee without raising fees for those who don’t care to recycle.
Wise said he would continue to look at further options for recycling even though the city had already collected many of the residential recycling bins. The collection of those bins, he said, was mainly to prevent them from being used to deposit garbage.
In other business the council:
• approved the application from Matt Henle to pursue a state-funded catalyst grant to make improvements to a property he owns in the 100 block of East Madison Street.
• approved a renewal of the city’s employee health insurance. The current arrangement splits the cost of insurance with the city picking up 72 percent of the cost with the employees paying the remaining 28 percent. The monthly premium for city employees increased by 5.9 percent, but the city’s portion of the premium decreased approximately $1,800 per month due to retirements and other enrollment changes.
• approved a letter from the city’s attorney to Cunning Company and David Cunning stating the city’s intent to pursue necessary steps to install a new water main to service to properties along South Fillmore Street.
To this point, Wise reported, Cunning has refused access to his property to make the necessary improvements. thus triggering the legal proceedings.
• briefly discussed components of a possible ordinance related to the operation of golf carts and utility vehicles on city streets. Without such an ordinance, state law prohibits their use within city limits.