Preparation for La Porte City’s Main Street Rehabilitation Project, anticipated to begin sometime in 2020, has begun. So, too, have the mechanisms for paying for the project that will resurface Main Street and replace the existing sidewalks in the downtown blocks. While final plans for the project, including a detailed accounting for what amenities will be included, have not been completed, funding for the work must be secured before work can begin. That is why an increase of more than $800,000 in the City’s Capital Projects fund is reflected in the Fiscal Year 2020 budget approved by the City Council on February 25.

The new budget will impose a mill levy rate of 15.88688, a 6.35% increase over the FY19 rate of 14.87799, as anticipated expenditures will top more than $5 million. That means owners of a home valued at $100,000 will see an increase of $36.58 on the City’s portion of their property tax bill next year.

The Main Street Rehabilitation Project has been in the planning stages for several years. In the coming months, final decisions about the composition of Main Street in the 200-500 blocks will be made after soliciting additional input from the community. Previously, a survey conducted during the 2017 Festival of Trails weekend resulted in a strong showing of support for resurfacing the downtown blocks with bricks.

The final cost of the project will depend upon a number of factors based on a range of options. Fully bricked streets will obviously cost more than partially bricked ones. Choosing not to brick the complete width of Main Street, though, offers potential maintenance advantages in the future, both in terms of cost and convenience when needing to access water mains or doing any other work that requires digging into the street’s surface.

City officials expect to bond for the project in 2020, as the Sweet Addition bonds were repaid last year. The City will also explore any grants that may be available as a supplementary funding source. If all goes as planned, the work to reconstruct Main Street would begin during the 2020 calendar year.

In other business during last week’s meeting, the Council received a quarterly report from Library Director Jolene Kronschnabel. From October through December 2019 the library presented over 60 programs, 5,649 items were circulated and patrons saved over $48,000 by borrowing items from the library rather than purchasing them.

The Council also approved the final readings of Ordinance 544. The ordinance will require drivers to stop when exiting the drive at Dollar General before turning on to East Reinbeck Road.

The City Council also discussed the 2019 pool season. The City has begun advertising for managers and lifeguards. While it is early in the hiring process, unless a manager and a sufficient number of guards are employed, the City will not be able to open the pool for the 2019 season.