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City Superintendent Brent Wise presented visual findings of a city-wide survey of nuisance properties to the Mount Ayr city council during their regular meeting Monday, June 19. After driving around the city limits, Wise estimated there were approximately 40 vacant homes. Broken windows and junk vehicles seemed to be a common issue among the various nuisance issues identified. Ringgold County deputy Chad Hunt has been working with city superintendent Wise to assist in identifying issues the city needs to address.
Wise noted that Jeff Sickels is lined up to take care of the property located directly behind the Catholic church and adjacent to the Free Methodist Church.
Additionally, Wise has a call scheduled with attorney Michael Maloney on Thursday of this week to discuss potential legal options related to nuisance properties.
While many properties will be sent a letter noting non-compliance with city ordinances, some issues may best be handled by initiating the nuisance abatement process, and other properties are considered to be municipal infractions. Wise asked the council for guidance on how to address the varying issues.
Councilmen Brad Elliott asked “Aren’t they [Ringgold County Sheriff office] hired to enforce our municipal ordinances?” Wise explained that while that is part of the contracted services, no particular number of officers are currently tied to covering the City of Mount Ayr. In the past, the contract stipulated so many hours of coverage, but that changed a couple years ago.
Wise also clarified the request he was making of the council, stating “Do we want to financially take on all the municipal infractions?” The City of Mount Ayr could choose to proceed with municipal infractions by requesting the assistance of the Ringgold County Sheriff’s department. Alternatively, the city could take the matter to court. While council members did discuss providing avenues for residents to dispose of unwanted items, no action was taken by the council.
Martha Landphair attended the city council meeting to share that the Princess Theater board has begun to paint a mural on the east side of the theater building. The design provided by students from Iowa State University extends into the sidewalk to the curb. Landphair noted that they plan to add sand to the paint to keep the sidewalk from getting slick. Superintendent Wise stated that he checked with the city’s insurance company and looked into any potential legal issues the city may have, and did not feel that the risk was any different than what the city already deals with. The theater board’s request to paint the sidewalk was unanimously approved by the council.
The City Council unanimously approved to pay $1,400 in transportation costs to bus kids to the Grant City pool for swimming lessons from July 17-21.
Dr. Abby Elliott and Tess Rinehart are planning to chaperoned the kids during the trip. The bus is scheduled to leave at 11:10 a.m. from the Mount Ayr High School parking lot, and return at 1:40 p.m.
Among other actions taken, the city council:
• set a public hearing for Budget Amendment #1 as July 3, 2023 during their regular council meeting at 6 p.m.
• set a work session to discuss how best to use referendum funds related to the construction of a new swimming pool on August 28, 2023 at 6:00 p.m.
• approved a CDBG request for payment.
• approved Resolution #2023-816 authorizing year end transfers for fiscal year ending June 30, 2023.
• approved Resolution #2023-817 authorizing year end transfers for fiscal year ending June 30, 2023.
• approved a three-year agreement with Lincoln’s Lawn Care to provide tree removal services at a rate of $700 per tree.
• approved the resignation of deputy city clerk Katie Giles with regrets and best wishes.
No official action was taken by the council to install a water main connection to the main water line at 904 South Cleveland street. Brent Wise spoke with Doug Sobotka from Excel Engineering about their $2 million infrastructure investment to expand the operation of their business. At times, their business operation requires them to release energy, posing a fire risk.
Superintendent Wise felt that a yard hydrant was not appropriate and they would need a larger water line installed for fire suppression. Wise felt that it may be the city’s responsibility and suggested the city use material they already have on hand that was left over from a previous project to complete the work.
The council questioned whether they would need an easement. Brad Elliott then noted that Wise should start the process of obtaining the easement.