The Albia City Council revisited some issues they have been discussing for the past several weeks during Monday's meeting.
The council once again discussed sewer rental fees for two new homes on 4th Avenue and a proposed update to the Urban Revitalization Tax Abatement.
During their last meeting the council voiced approval for moving forward with charging the homes on 4th Avenue a flat fee of $35 for their sewer services. After more thought, council members said they believed the homes should be charged the same way that all other citizens are, by the number of gallons of water used. After discussion, the council voted to approve assessing the sewer tax for the homes and not to assess a flat fee.
Councilman Brandon Williams once again brought up discussion of revamping the Urban Revitalization Tax Abatement the city of Albia offers. The council has discussed the matter during their last two meetings.
Albia currently offers a five-year abatement with 100 percent abatement in year one, 90 percent in year two, 65 percent in year three, 50 percent in year four and 30 percent in year five.
Williams had proposed during the last meeting keeping the time frame of five years but upping the percentages to 100, 100, 75, 50 and 25. Williams said after thinking about it more and seeing that Albia already offered the most generous abatement compared to surrounding communities he was changing his proposal.
Williams said he was now proposing that for new home construction the council should approve a 10-year tax abatement with the following percentages, 100 in years one and two, 90 in years three and four, 65 in years five and six, 50 in years seven and eight and 30 in years nine and 10.
Williams said he would be fine putting a five year time limit on offering the abatement and also that the current five-year abatement plan could be kept in place for remodeling homes and things like adding garages. Williams said the 10-year plan would only apply to home construction.
"The big thing that I really want you guys to look at is the lost tax revenue from the 18 empty lots at Country View Estates," said Williams. "We are losing money by not being able to get houses out there."
Councilman Dennis Conley said at first he was against the proposal but after thinking about it more he began to see the upsides of the plan.
"The idea behind this is that hopefully we're going to jump start some new construction ... which will free up other houses in the community and
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hopefully will make a chain reaction to create more housing for different price points ... all along the way for people in the community," said Conley.
Williams and other council members said that a lack of available housing for those interested in moving to the town is a major problem in Albia.
"We have new construction going on with industry in town," said Conley. "We have places hiring in town. We have people that travel to Albia to work. We just don't have the housing for these people."
The council overall voiced support for the proposal and will look at voting on the proposed plan at a future meeting.
Councilman Williams also brought up that he would like to see the city add language to Chapter 85 of city code regarding the care of domestic animals. Albia's code currently states that domestic animals must be provided "adequate shelter" according to Williams. He suggested using language from state code to update Albia's ordinance and make it more specific.
According to Williams, the state's code language says that shelters must provide protection from the weather and other elements as well as provide adequate bedding. Shelters must also provide adequate ventilation during hot days. Williams also wanted to add something into the language about providing sufficient food and an unfrozen water source for domestic animals.
The council voiced support for making the changes and city attorney Bob Breckenridge said he would prepare an updated ordinance for the council to consider at their next meeting.
The council also voted to approve the max levy resolution after a public hearing. There were not any submitted comments or comments made during the meeting for or against the resolution from the public. The proposed total max levy is 17.27 percent. After approving the max levy resolution, the council will move forward with making a proposed budget, which will determine the actual tax levy rate. The max levy is just the maximum the city is allowed to levy, not what will be levied in the final budget according to city clerk Linda Heller.
In other business:
Councilwoman Leslie Hill said she had been contacted by an anonymous donor who would like to provide money to help tear down sheds around town that are abandoned. Hill said the city would take applications for the project and the council voiced support for the idea. Hill said she did not know how much money would be given and that the city's only involvement would be giving out applications and collecting them.
Police Chief Brad Evinger asked the council to consider allowing the department to purchase a used vehicle to replace a vehicle that recently broke down on top of the planned purchase of a vehicle the department was already anticipating during their next fiscal year. The council expressed support for the proposal but could not vote on the matter until their next meeting.
Mayor Richard Clark brought up the possibility of a piece of land currently used for parking at the bus barn being sold to someone who wanted to build on it. Sanitation Commissioner Bill Murphy said that a main sewer line runs through that area. Mayor Clark said he would bring that point up during further discussion about the possible sale.
Aaron Conley and Brad Evinger were reappointed to Planning and Zoning with councilman Dennis Conley abstaining from the vote.
The council approved the renewal of beer and liquor permits for Jim & Charlie's and Dollar General.
The council stated they would hold a budget workshop following their next meeting.