Waukon City Council votes to help Aveka obtain loan for equipment to mitigate factory's odor emissions

by Bob Beach

The Waukon City Council faced a short agenda for its regular meeting Monday night, January 19, but the meeting was well attended by citizens concerned about a certain odor that the town has recently become overly familiar with.
Mayor Loren Beneke told the Council and those in attendance that he and some members of the Council had met with representatives from Aveka who expressed an interest in paying for renovations to reduce the smell emitted from the Waukon facility themselves. Beneke also reported that the estimated costs of those renovations had been reduced from approximately $400,000 to around $200,000 by purchasing used rather than new equipment and by first installing a "bag house" and determining its effectiveness before investing in more expensive ionization equipment.
City Attorney Jim Garrett said that while Aveka wishes to pay for the renovations, the company's representatives  reported that they currently lack the funds to begin those renovations and that banks are unwilling to issue a loan for the equipment because the Waukon facility has not shown a profit until recently. Garrett said that Aveka had requested that the City act as a co-signer on the loan. Garrett said that the City could issue its guarantee on the loan, which would cost the City nothing unless Aveka were to for some reason default on the loan. Garrett suggested that if the Council would be willing to issue that guarantee that the urban renewal area be expanded so that tax increment financing could be used for "backup" funds.
After some discussion, the Council voted to direct Garrett to begin the paperwork to expand the City's urban renewal area and iron out the details of the proposed loan agreement.

In other business, the Council approved a utility easement, a construction change order and a funding resolution, all related to the West Side Development project. The Council also agreed to act as the fiscal agent for the Waukon Wellness Center on the application for a grant application to the Allamakee County Community Foundation.