The Albia City Council discussed a couple of issues at Monday’s meeting that will not come cheap to the citizens of Albia.
DNR ordered improvements to the city’s two sewer plants will necessitate a sewer rate increase to cover the costs. The city’s engineering firm is suggesting a 15 percent increase in sewer rates over a two-year period or a one-time 30 percent increase. In the discussion it appeared council members were more inclined to vote for a more gradual increase.
The two lagoons have not had a major repair since about 1950, about 50 years after they were first constructed. Both lagoons will be lined and that work has started. The sewer plants have to come into Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) compliance within a couple of years.
The council asked Sewer Department head Bill Murphy to give them some exact costs and a time table for the improvements ahead.
Another costly item the council is dealing with is the old Albia Interurban bridge on South Clinton near Grant School. The state has ordered the bridge either replaced or closed, even though the city has placed weight restrictions on the bridge. It still carries considerable school bus traffic.
The city has already received a $1 million grant, but the project is expected to cost a little more than $2 million. A meeting was held between state bridge inspectors and the city’s street committee. “We don’t need to close the bridge immediately,” said Street Superintendent Jeff Stephens. “We’re looking at a two-year project once it gets started and there are engineering start up costs.”
The completed bridge will be substantially wider and may be designed to carry a bicycle path on one or both sides.
The council briefly discussed asking Monroe County Engineer Jeremiah Selby for help getting started.
The council continued its discussion following the request by the Monroe County Little League Softball Association to lease and manage Washington field. City Attorney Bob Breckenridge said he would look at a similar agreement with the Albia Soccer Association in leasing and managing the soccer field next to the Monroe County Aquatic Center.
Bryon Stilley, who was not at the meeting where softball representatives made the original request, wanted to know about liability issues as well as the use of restrooms and the concession stand. Under the first discussion, the city would continue to manage the Cruizin’ Albia Park portion of the Washington site. The softball association would make major improvements to the field, do the mowing and manage use of the field.
Mayor Richard Clark provided some historical perspective about the development of the soccer field and how that has worked out. He said the soccer association is considering lighting that field at some point.
Breckenridge reported that the non-union city employee contract had been agreed upon with a 6 percent increase in pay over the course of two years, a clothing allowance for sanitation and street supervisors and the ability to buy back 30 percent of sick leave. The contract was approved.
Police Chief Jay Andrews received permission to advertise for a new police officer. He told the council that Officer Joe Worth was expected to leave the Albia department to join the Monroe County Sheriff’s office as a deputy and he wanted to get a jump on hiring in order to send whomever is hired to the police academy in April.
He also reported to the council a study he did on a request to place a four-way stop sign at the intersection of South A Street and A Avenue West. Conley Spray Foam is on the southwest corner, Brick Street on the southeast and Monroe County Professional Management on the northeast.
Andrews said that he spent four hours at five different times watching the intersection and said there were 216 vehicles passing through the intersection, or about one vehicle per 1.1 minutes. He saw no one running the stop signs and didn’t recognize any safety concerns.
The council elected not to pursue the four-way stop at this time.
The council approved a resolution to apply the costs of demolition and asbestos removal to property taxes: $36,767 for asbestos removal at 22 North Clinton (old hotel); $4,695 to 121 North 9th (demolition) and $8,345 to 222 South Second St. (demolition).
A total of $57,000 in inter-fund transfers involving the aquatic center and airport were approved.
Under supervisors reports, City Attorney Breckenridge said that he would prepare a list of houses needing repair or demolition by February so that action by the city can occur by May.