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City considers cap for non-profit utilities

by Dolores Hamilton
Setting annual caps on city-paid utilities for non-profit organizations was the topic of a lengthy discussion at Monday’s city council meeting.
The city pays water/sewer costs for Highland Cemetery, electricity and water/sewer for youth and senior baseball fields, water/sewer for softball fields, electricity, natural gas, and water/sewer for the RAC, and water/sewer for Friendly Door.
The total cost paid by the city for these utilities in 2015-16 was $15,245.78.
Representatives from Highland Cemetery, the baseball fields, RAC and Friendly Door were at the meeting.
City Manager Jerry Flemming said that during their budget workshop the council had looked at the amount spent over the last three years for utilities for these organizations. The city’s proposed budget for 2017-18 includes $13,301 for this expenditure and is based on consumption by these facilities in the previous 12 months. Actual costs from two and three years ago exceeded $15,000 per year.
Flemming had recommended that the utilities be placed in the name of the non-profit organization and that each be reimbursed for utility expenses up to a maximum amount set by the city council. Any overages would be paid by the organization, and this would be an incentive for them to conserve on utilities.
The difficulty of changing the bills over to the organization’s name was discussed, and Jerry Gholson, representing Highland Cemetery, suggested that instead of putting the bill in each organization’s name, the city continue to pay and if it’s over the limit they could come in to pay the difference.
Mayor Ray Schultz told the group, “In my opinion we can’t make a decision tonight because we don’t have a realistic cap to work with.” The council agreed and a motion to table the subject to give the council additional time to set the caps was approved.
In a second public hearing to consider granting an extension to abate the metal/wooden garage at 310 S. Colorado, the owner said he had been removing the things stored inside the structure and needed more time. He was told to pull a permit for demolition at city hall, and given 45 days to complete the work.
A second public hearing on a wooden residential structure at 105 W. Garden was cancelled because the work had been taken care of.
Phil Johnson, long-time member and president of the Iowa Park Economic Development (4A) Corporation, was recognized for his community service and leadership. Johnson, who resigned from the EDC board because he has moved from Iowa Park, was presented with a gift basket from the city council in appreciation of his many years of service.
Mayor Shultz proclaimed the week of Sept. 17 through 23 as “Constitution Week” in Iowa Park, and presented a copy of the proclamation to Ruth James, a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution. Mrs. James had free copies of the constitution available at the meeting.
A request from the Iowa Park Chamber of Commerce to close a portion of North Wall St. and East and West Cash St. to through traffic on Saturday, Sept. 30 for the annual Whoop-T-Do celebration, and the use of city-owned porta-toilets, barricades, solid waste containers, and electricity was approved.
A resolution was also approved that prohibits fishing to the general public at Lake Gordon from 8 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 12 until 12 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 13, except for participants of the city’s FishFest event.
A request by representatives of Iowa Park High School to allow a bonfire on the high school property on Thursday, Sept. 28, in conjunction with homecoming festivities was approved.
Resolutions were passed accepting and adopting the operating budgets of the Economic Development Corporation and Community Development Corporation for fiscal year 2017/2018.