The City Council of La Porte City, Iowa met in regular session on January 26, 2015. Mayor David Neil called the meeting to order at 7:00 PM with Council Members Eric Allsup, Todd Butler, Sarah Craft, Mike Johnson and Brent Sadler present. Also present were Corey Lorenzen and John Wahl and Nick Reiter.
City Attorney Corey Lorenzen presented the latest update on the status of the City’s negotiations with the State on the duplication of benefits for the 2008 Flood Buyout Program. As a part of the buyout for Kris Koopman, the City, at the direction of the Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management Department and FEMA, paid Mr. Koopman and his mortgage company approximately $70,000 in benefits to which he was not entitled. When the State discovered their error, they invoiced the City for the overpayment. The State’s position was that since the buyout proceeds flowed through the City, the City must make efforts to get the funds back. In 2012, the City began proceedings to force repayment of the funds by Mr. Koopman. Subsequent discovery in the case revealed that while fully aware that the funds he had received was an error, Mr. Koopman no longer had the funds, and that the chances of recovering the full amount of the overpayment were slim. In 2014 the City agreed to a settlement with Koopman of $6,000 to be paid to the City by February, 2015 and Lorenzen began negotiations with the State to reduce or eliminate the remaining amount. In 2012, the State applied $30,708.55 in excess disaster funds to the outstanding balance, reducing it to $39,886.05. In January, 2015, the State applied $15,981.12, to the City’s balance, which represented federal disaster recovery funds due the City from the 2014 windstorm, leaving a balance due to the State of $23,904.93. On January 26th, 2015, Mr. Koopman paid the amount due in his settlement with the City of $6,000.00. Lorenzen told the Council that the State had done all that they were going to do regarding offsets to the outstanding balance and in light of receipt of Mr. Koopman’s settlement, the State would hold the City responsible for the remaining balance. He advised the Council to pay the remaining balance due so that the project could be closed. The only remaining option would be for the City to take FEMA to court. Lorenzen cautioned that such litigation would likely be costly for the City with no guarantee of a successful outcome. After discussion, the Council voted 4-1 to pay the State of Iowa in the amount of $23,904.93 for the duplication of benefits in the 2008 Flood Buyout. Councilmember Craft opposed voted against.
The Council passed the second reading of a proposed ordinance to rezone City owned parcels Lots 2, 8 and 9 of Block 23, Railroad Addition and Lot 0 of Block 16 of Railroad Addition from R-1 (residential) to M-1 (manufacturing.) The final reading will take place at the February 9, 2015 Council meeting.
The City Council set the date for the public hearing to adopt the FY2016 Budget for February 23, 2015. The hearing will take place at City Hall.
The Council accepted the resignation of City Attorney Corey Lorenzen, who is leaving his law practice to pursue other interests The Council then appointed Kevin Ahrenholz of the law firm Beecher, Field, Walker, Morris, Hoffman & Johnson, P.C. to replace Lorenzen. Ahrenholz’ fee will be $125/hr..
The City Council amended the fee for rental of the La Porte City Community Center to $25 for weeknight rental and $50 for weekend and holiday rental. This change removes partial day rental on weekends and holidays, all weekend and holiday rentals will now be all day. The Holiday rental fee will include all days designated as City holidays as well as days when the La Porte City Council on Aging is not using the Community Center making it available to rentals for the entire day.