Tri States Public Radio Staff
Annexation, Downtown, Franchise
Tue February 14, 2012
Fort Madison Sets Budget Hearing
Fort Madison residents can weigh in on the city’s spending plan next week.
A public hearing and the initial city council vote on the $25-million spending plan are scheduled for Tuesday, February 21.
City Manager Byron Smith says the budget could be considered status quo.
“I would not say bare-bone, but it is kind of basic for what we are doing,” says Smith. “We did not propose any major staffing increases or decreases.”
Smith says money is available for employee raises and to expand nuisance enforcement.
He says Fort Madison’s property tax rate should shrink by ten cents while the average water bill would decline by more than $1/month.
Smith says the budget does factor in a $5.80 increase in the average sewer bill to pay for operational costs and future infrastructure.
The Fort Madison City Council has accepted a study of annexation opportunities available with the new Highway 61 Bypass.
City Manager Byron Smith says the panel did not ask city staff to proceed with any of the proposals laid out in the document at this time.
The study examines where Fort Madison should consider annexation based on economic opportunities and cost.
Fort Madison is clearing the way for the use of a downtown façade grant.
The city secured a $500,000 state grant on behalf of Fort Madison Main Street.
The money will be used to improve the facades of 13 downtown properties, with the building owners covering the 30% local match.
The city council has hired Burlington-based Metzger-Johnson Architects to provide architectural, engineering, and design work for the project.
City Manager Byron Smith says the goal is for construction to get underway this spring.
“We are going to bid it out by specialty,” says Smith, “so we will have a general contractor to do coordination. (We will) then have a masonry contractor and a painter (etc).”
Smith says the cost to the city will be about $36,000 because the Cattermole building is among the 13 slated for façade improvements.
The Southeast Iowa Regional Planning Commission will administer the grant.
Fort Madison is considering entering into a franchise agreement with Interstate Light and Power, which is owned by Alliant Energy.
City Manager Byron Smith says it’s been about 15 years since such a deal was in place.
He says the agreement could save the city money on infrastructure projects and increase the chances of local agencies receiving grants.
Smith says the city could also implement a franchise fee, but he says there are no plans to do so at this time.
A public hearing on the franchise agreement is set for Tuesday, February 21.