Lansing City Council holds second, waives final reading of utility rates ordinance, hears Platt Street proposal from Fehr Graham

by Julie Berg-Raymond

During the regular meeting of the Lansing City Council held Monday, August 21, Mayor Melissa Hammell read Ordinance No. 206 - amending Title VI, Chapter 5 of the Municipal Code of the City of Lansing regarding utility rates - for the second and final time. The council approved waiving the third reading of the ordinance. A copy of Ordinance No. 206 is on file at Lansing City Hall and a summary of the ordinance is printed on Page 28 in this week’s edition of The Standard.

Ryan Wicks, a principal with Fehr Graham Engineering and Environmental and manager of its West Union office, presented the company’s proposal for the Platt Street project. The project involves the replacement/upgrade of existing water, sanitary sewer and storm sewer utilities along Platt Street, North Street and 4th Street.

Wicks told the council that the existing sanitary sewer lines and water mains are smaller than current recommended standards and made several recommendations. The project cost is expected to be around $1.5 million. The grant the City was hoping to use to help pay for this project is only $500,000. The council is concerned that, with the City’s portion of financial responsibility for the Black Hawk Bridge replacement project, the Platt Street project isn’t going to be feasible without finding additional funding options.

Council member Curtis Snitker drew the council’s attention to a structure located at the west end of Wall Street at the intersection with Lansing Harpers Road, and said it is in violation of Lansing’s Municipal Code. The property owner was issued a fine and a notice to remove the structure.

In PeopleService representative Duane Estebo’s report to the council, he noted that the department “collected and shipped lead and copper samples to the lab” on July 18. “This is required to be done every three years by the Iowa DNR (Department of Natural Resources),” his report added. July 19, all of the water and wastewater lines, both public and private, on Platt and 4th Streets were located. Estebo added that “this needed to be done prior to the engineer’s survey.”

Estebo reported that clarifiers at the wastewater treatment plant were cleaned July 6-7. July 10-11, Estebo’s report noted, “I completed a survey and questionnaire for the engineers about the city wastewater system. They needed this to be completed before the PER review.” July 14, the grease was cleaned out of the Ball Diamond Lift station. “This accumulates every so often and we clean it out four to five times a year,” Estebo wrote in his report.

The council approved purchasing new vehicle cameras from Aaxon Enterprise for each squad car of the Lansing Police Department.

With the City of Lansing’s cost portion and construction obligations for the Black Hawk Bridge project currently at 200 percent over initial estimates, the council has been looking at ways to help fund those costs and obligations. Council member Ian Zahren reported on the possibility of securing a loan through the USDA’s Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant (REDLG) program. This is a zero-percent-interest loan for 10 years which provides funding for rural projects through local utility organizations. Allamakee-Clayton Electric Cooperative would help the City in its application at no cost.

A request for assistance at 191 South 5th Street was tabled until the September 18 meeting. Requests made by the Fish Days committee were tabled until spring for further discussion.

In other business, the council approved sewer forgiveness at 483 South Front Street in the amount of $34.91.

The next regular meeting of the Lansing City Council is scheduled for Tuesday, September 5, due to the Labor Day holiday. A special council meeting to discuss the possibility of developing a tax abatement policy in Lansing is scheduled for Monday, September 11 at 5:30 p.m. in Lansing City Hall.