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Council to explore special election costs

February 22, 2022

The City Council tabled action on the appointment of a new council member Monday night, deciding instead to investigate the costs of holding a special election to fill the vacant seat.

The council seat became vacant with the resignation of Brian Miller. Miller announced his resignation, effective on Feb. 8, due to the fact that he had recently moved outside of the city limits.

Councilman Matt McKinney was the first to suggest the special election.

“I’ve given this a lot of thought over the weekend, as we interviewed three separate candidates and feel we have good candidates,” he said. “The more I thought about it, the more I thought we should consider at least looking into the cost of a special election and letting the public choose.”

The council recently appointed Megan McFarland to a council seat that was left vacant when Katelyn Hartmann also moved outside the city limits.

“We appointed one person in the recent past, and I’m not opposed to appointing again, but we have a number of good, quality candidates,” McKinney said.

He added that he had attempted to check into the costs, but the auditor’s office was closed Monday due to the President’s Day holiday.

McKinney recommended tabling the appointment until the cost of a special election could be determined.

Councilman Logan Welch said he would also be open to a special election.

“In a short amount of time, it’s kind of unprecedented how many we would have to appoint,” he said. “But I’m also open to doing an appointment since we have some good candidates.”

The council has to appoint a new council member within 60 days of the notification of vacancy.

“But if you make the decision to go with a special election, then there would be new timelines,” said City Clerk Karyl Bonjour.

“I would like us to find out a rough estimate of what that election would cost and then we could entertain whether we appoint from the candidates who interviewed or move forward with a special election,” McKinney said.

The appointment was tabled until the next council meeting on March 7 to give city staff time to discover the cost of an election.

In other business, the council approved an amendment to the On-Call Paving Specialist agreement for professional services with Snyder and Associates of Ankeny. The amendment relates to the preliminary and final design, topographic survey, utility coordination, plan preparation, contract documents, bid assistance and construction services for the Lincoln Drive project and the Fair Meadow Drive project. According to Ken Wetzler, public works director, the Lincoln Drive project involves resurfacing from Hillcrest to the dead end, 1100 feet of watermain replacement and perimeter storm tile under the curb and gutter. The Fair Meadow project involves resurfacing from Des Moines Street to 200 feet short of Superior Street.

Resolutions accepting and approving the acquisition of two properties — 1417 Third St., and 909 Harding Court, both deemed to be abandoned and dilapidated.

The council also approved the purchase of a tandem axle dump truck and dump box. Street Department Supervisor Brandon Bahrenfuss told the council that the manufacture time for new equipment was growing, and by authorizing the purchase now, the city could see the new equipment by spring or summer 2023. If the order was delayed, Bahrenfuss said the wait time could mean the vehicle wouldn’t arrive until late fall 2023 or early 2024.

The purchase of a bucket truck for the line department was also approved with the equipment expected to arrive in May 2024.

DCD Concrete Coatings was awarded the contract for the flooring replacement at the electric utility shop located at 309 Third St. The DCD bid, which was $12,332.50, was one of three received for the project.

The council also set March 7 at 6:05 p.m. as the date and time for a public hearing considering the maximum tax dollars from certain levies for the city’s proposed budget for 2022-2023.

Following the meeting, the council reviewed financial documents received from Webster City Daycare, including the balance sheet for 2021. The daycare in January requested a bridge grant from the city to help make payroll and other expenses.

The daycare has gone through many changes in the past year including bringing on a new director, personnel and board members. Child Care Resource and Referral officials have been

working with the center to update its operations and policies and to work with the development of the staff and the board.

The council also went into closed session to discuss the purchase or sale of a particular real estate.


View this article as it originally appeared in the Daily Freeman-Journal.

Last modified: February 23, 2022

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