Monroe County Courthouse

Albia’s city council meeting on Monday was not exactly a love fest. Councilmen barked at each other over a couple of items, motions didn’t get seconds and a couple of votes were decided on 3-2 margins.

The council started with discussion over an earlier vote to pay Mark McCarty $708 to cover emergency room costs of a daughter who was bitten by a dog. In an earlier council meeting, McCarty had spoken to the council about advice he had received from a police officer about turning in an insurance claim and then paper work that was somehow lost between the offices of the city attorney and county attorney.

Councilman Bryon Stilley made the motion at that meeting to pay the $708 because he felt it was the city’s error and responsibility to cover the cost.

Merle Regenold voted against the motion then, and then came back before his fellow councilmen on Monday to say that the claim submitted by McCarty was not accurate. Regenold said the amount should have been $492 because of a credit McCarty received from the hospital.

After considerable discussion, Councilman Brian Bell moved to pay the $462 because he felt the Albia police officer was still at fault for advice given. Regenold argued that had McCarty paid the $462 to the hospital in a timely manner, he would have garnered another 20 percent off.

Dennis Conley said the council told McCarty they would help and that the officer told McCarty not to pay. “If we pay, it should come out of the police budget,” Regenold insisted.

The council voted 3-2 not to pay McCarty anything.

Mayor Richard Clark, as an aside, told the council that Monroe County Attorney John Pabst was not at all happy about being dragged into the dispute. “John said he never received any paperwork regarding the incident,” said Mayor Clark. “He made it very clear that he wasn’t happy about the whole thing.”

Street Superintendent Jeff Stephens was next up to discuss a $300,000 street improvement program for the summer. Stephens presented the streets he and the street committee had agreed needed asphalting, including a 120-foot stub in front of a new business owned by Eric Schofield.

Stephens needed the council to pass a resolution so he can advertise for bids on the work.

That ignited another heated discussion about the council’s past practice of paving grassed streets that individuals and businesses decided to open up. At issue was placing $5,000 in the budget to extend North F Street beyond Ron Griffin’s mechanic’s shop and past Schofield’s new building that houses his landscaping and snow removal business.

According to Mayor Richard Clark, it has been a long-standing policy of the council not to pay for paving on grass streets opened up by private citizens. Clark said the long-standing policy included the city maintaining the street if it met city specifications.

However, that policy has been compromised at least twice, once when the city asphalted in front of Griffin’s business and more recently when it contributed about $900 to Jason Popson for doing his own concrete work in front of his new home.

Dennis Conley was dead set against extending the street to accommodate Schofield’s business. “Pretty soon, we’ll be paving everyone’s alley,” Conley argued.

Scott Kelly offered a motion to approve the streets proposed in the project minus the approximately $5,000 to do the street in front of Schofield’s building. That motion died for lack of second.

Regenold, who sits on the street committee and originally agreed to add the 120 feet of North F in the project, made a motion to accept the project as presented.

Clearly Brian Bell was not happy when he seconded the motion. “We don’t need to get into a pissing match over 120 feet,” he said. “Jeff needs a vote to get bids.”

The vote passed 3-2 with Conley and Kelly voting against the motion.

The streets included in the proposed project include: South 2nd from 2nd Avenue East to 6th Avenue East; 3rd Avenue West from South Clinton to South B; South A from 3rd Avenue West to 2nd Avenue West; North 8th from the railroad tracks to the blacktop; C Avenue East from North 8th to North 9th; Washington Avenue East from South 3rd to South 8th to Benton Avenue; North F (in front of Schofield’s building).

Depending on bids, that list can be modified.

The council held a discussion on whether or not to have a city wide clean-up this year. City Clerk Linda Heller said the money for the clean-up was budgeted, however, the mayor asked for a concensus and the council did not want to have the annual clean-up.

Brian Bell addressed the council about his study of the Monroe County Aquatic Center expenses. Bell said he found nothing out of order, and no real areas of cuts or savings. The center ran at a $64,472 deficit last summer (similar to swimming pools throughout the area).

Bell did say that several repairs and improvements would be made this summer using money from the aquatic center’s escrow account. Those improvements include new air conditioners for the main buildings, a new speaker system and some landscaping.

In other business:

• The council approved the resignation of Matt Foster from the library board. He served on the board for over 30 years. His replacement will be Melinda Montgomery.

• Helen Foster was re-appointed to the Albia Water Board for a six-year term.

• The council approved a $8,370 bid from John Crall to rent the airport crop land.

• An addendum from Hall Engineering for an additional $12,375 was approved after scoping of sewer lines discovered about 6,000 feet containing excessive roots and protruding taps into homes.

• A beer permit renewal was approved for Top Notch Bait and Tackle.

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