Council learns of legislative changes

CRESCO - City Clerk Michelle Elton explained some potential legislative changes that will affect local municipalities at the March 20 meeting of Cresco City Council.
~ SF 181 is a rollback on multiple-residence properties, which will be decreased. “Our valuations had already decreased before this. They’re estimating values will decrease 1.8% this year and probably another 4% next year,” she explained to Council. “That’s about 6%. That’s why they are making it active this year, to spread it out so it is 2% this year and 4% next year and not 6% next year.
~ SSB 1124 will combine several levies into the General Fund Levy and limits valuation growth.
~ SSB1125 would eliminate the Local Option Sales Tax (LOST), reduce commercial & industrial property tax rollback from 90% to 80% with no backfill, and convert the funding of the Homestead Tax Credit and Veterans Property Tax Credit to be funded by local governments instead of the State. 
“All three of these items will have drastic impacts to the City — LOST funds all of our equipment and small projects as well as emergency expenses. The State claims they will backfill LOST; however, based on past experience this occurs for a few years then is eliminated.”
~ SSB 1138 will increase the Military Property Tax Credit to apply to the first $4,000 valuation from $1,852.
Elton commented, “It’s scary, and we’re losing control is what it feels like.”
Council person Amy Bouska stated, “What’s paid for out of this part of the levy is police, the law enforcement center, fire, library — these are about 75% of our levy. Also included are parks, theatre, Fitness Center and admin. If this passes, it’s inevitable we will have to start cutting these services. So call Rep. Bergan and Sen. Klimesh and say this can’t happen.”
• In other business, Public Works Director Nate Widell reminded Council members about the 2023 model truck that was budgeted for $45,000 in FY2024 for Widell. He stated Sleepy Hollow has a new 2022 model available that is $10,000 cheaper than the 2023 crew cab, with better foot room and better gas mileage than the Traverse now being used. With the discount, the truck would cost $36,285. Trade-in value on the Traverse would be $7,000, and Brandon Kerian, Fitness Center/Parks Director, asked to purchase it. Council agreed to purchase the truck in this fiscal year and do a budget amendment.
The stoplight pole at Hwy. 9 and Elm St. will be installed by Perry Novak when it arrives.
A water main broke between 2nd and 3rd Ave., but was quickly and easily fixed the week before.
“The street guys have been busy televising some of the storm sewers around town. In the near future, we will have some spots that will need attention,” he reported. 
• Police Chief Tim Ruroden had nothing new to report.
• Deputy Clerk Niki Hill reported bids were due on Feb. 27 and were to be awarded on March 6.
• Bouska reported on information she learned at a Howard County Economic Development meeting, including a fish fry in Elma; breaking ground for the Clinic expansion in April; a Cabin Coffee business will start constructing a building soon, just west of Howard County Mutual; Panda Garden is now open; and Good Times Grill is hoping to open in May.
•Kim Witt was hired as the children’s librarian, replacing Rhonda Vobr.
• Council member Alex Fortune stated, “The Oneota Film Festival came to the Cresco Theatre, which was a great success. Several live Theatre events will be coming up in April and May.” The Theatre is also working with the UNI outreach program for the new shows.
Gosch LLC is installing new furnaces at the Theatre.
• After a public hearing, council voted to approve a resolution to authorize a loan agreement not to exceed $4.6 million in General Obligation Capital Loan Notes.
• Mayor Dave Brenno was authorized to enter into an agreement with Piper Sandler & Co.
• Wilson Custom Tree Service was awarded the contract for stump grinding at 87¢ per inch over Walton Tree Service’s bid of 89¢ per inch.
• Council agreed to enter into an agreement between the City of Cresco and Local 1068 American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees AFL-CIO and to give wage increases for full-time, non-union employees and permanent part-time employees.
• Council members approved the third reading and Ordinance 502 pertaining to fees for recyclable and non-recyclable waste collection.
• Emily Dohlman-Govern and Kevin Weinacht were reappointed for a term of three years to the Board of Adjustments.
• Elton explained that most Urban Renewal Areas are expiring in the next few years. Areas created before 1994 do not expire.
Council recommended request a cost estimate and steps to take from Ahlers & Cooney to update the Urban Renewal Areas.
• The mayor will sign a letter of intent to support an application for a Theatre - Community Catalyst Building Remediation Program Grant.
• Phase II of the Scene Shop Construction Project was approved.
• Cresco Chamber Director Jason Passmore brought a suggestion to the council to apply for a $250,000 grant from the (Surface Transportation Block Grant Program) STBG five-county federal program for the downtown crosswalk project.
Getting a grant was on the positive side. Cons included having to wait for an answer before being able to start the project, which could delay the timeline by a year; adding a 10% increase in cost from a federal grant; and not knowing the date the grants will be awarded.
To compensate for costs, Bouska made the motion to ask for $300,000. It died for lack of a second. Gary Kriener then made a motion to disregard the grant, which was seconded by Fortune.
On a majority vote of 2-1, there will be no application for the grant.
The next regular meeting will be March 6 at 5:30 p.m.

Cresco Times

Phone: 563-547-3601
Fax: 563-547-4602

Cresco TPD
214 N. Elm Street
Cresco, IA 52136

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