At its regular meeting on March 23rd, 2015, the City Council approved the sale of two lots at the Sweet Addition, and set the date for a public hearing to sell two more. This leaves only 14 lots of the original 30 left available at the south side addition that was opened in 2006.
The Council also gave final approval for the construction of a Visitor & Tourism Center to be housed in the former offices of La Porte City Utilities, located next to City Hall. Since the Utilities departure in 2009, the space has been used mainly for storage and office space. The La Porte City Chamber of Commerce proposed the construction of a wall to divide the space and utilize the front 15 feet as a visitor center. Total construction costs for the project, which includes units to display the promotional materials, is estimated at $3,000. The Chamber believes that the highly visible, yet mostly unused space on Main Street can benefit local businesses, and has committed $1,500 to help pay for the project.
In other business, La Porte City Fire Rescue Service requested the appointment of Matt Pennell as a probationary member of the department. In addition, a request to conduct a training fire at 1100 Benton Street on the weekend of May 2nd was also received. The City Council approved both requests.
The La Porte City Lions Club submitted information and requests for street closures for 2015 Festival of Trails Celebration, which will take place June 19 – 20, 2015. Planned events include a parade, fireworks, 5K Run, Sand Volleyball Tournament, Sing Me to Heaven Duck Race and vendor booths, as well as a roller derby at Union High School and car show in the City park. Battery G, a Civil War artillery reenactment unit will return again this year with plans for a battle reenactment in the works.
The Council scheduled a public hearing to consider a change in the City’s floodplain ordinance. The proposed changes are currently being reviewed by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources for compliance and recommendations regarding possible inclusion of the City in FEMA’s Community Rating System (CRS). The CRS program recognizes and encourages community floodplain management activities that exceed the minimum National Flood Insurance Program standards. Depending upon the level of participation, flood insurance premium rates for policyholders can be reduced up to 45%. After the public hearing, the amended ordinance will be presented to the Council for approval. The new ordinance would become effective after three readings before the Council and publication.
Council members reviewed the proposed property, liability and workers compensation insurance renewal from La Porte City Insurance. For the policy year that begins April 1, 2015, the City’s estimated insurance costs are $118,852, which includes $57,522 for property and liability insurance and $54,330 for workers compensation. While the City’s property and liability insurance premiums increased an average of just 3.5% over the past five years, its workers compensation premiums have nearly doubled since 2011, when the rate was $27,559. The dramatic increase is due to the combination of a few large claims coming from the City’s relatively small group of employees. Unfortunately, the associated premium increases affect all job classes of the City, resulting in increased costs in every department.
The Council received an update on RAGBRAI, which will pass through La Porte City on July 23, 2015. Local RAGBRAI committee members attended a statewide workshop in Webster City for pass-through on March 28.
For the complete text of the meeting minutes, logon onto the City’s website at www.lpcia.com and click on the GOVERNMENT tab.