The City Council of La Porte City, Iowa met in regular session on November 14, 2016. Mayor David Neil called the meeting to order at 7:00 PM with Council Members Eric Allsup, Kristi Harrill, Brent Sadler and David Williams present. Council member was Mike Johnson absent.
A proposed change to the City’s Employee Handbook resulted in a discussion about what role Officer John Keefe would have, if any, on the La Porte City Police Department, leaving the City Council divided in their opinions as to the appropriate action to take. The Council’s discussion shifted from handbook to public safety when an amendment that would remove all references to ¾ time employees from the City’s Employee Handbook was proposed by Eric Allsup and seconded by Kristi Harrill. When council member David Williams asked what would happen to Officer John Keefe’s position, which is currently classified as a ¾ time position, Mayor Neil responded that it would result in a termination of his position, including benefits and insurance. The mayor indicated that it would be up to the Council to decide if they wanted to offer Keefe a full-time position.
Council member Brent Sadler expressed concerned that there had been no previous discussion of this proposal with the Council and that with this resolution the City would effectively be eliminating Keefe’s job. Sadler suggested the resolution could grandfather in Keefe. Allsup replied that three years ago the Council voted on four full time officers, and since Keefe is ¾ time, the City is not holding up their end of the bargain to the taxpayers, and that the City must hire more part time officers to provide 24 hour coverage.
Allsup then made a motion, seconded by Harrill, to amend the resolution amending the employee handbook. The amended resolution would remove all reference to ¾ time employees from the handbook, grandfathering in current ¾ time officer John Keefe, while requiring him to pay 25% of his health, dental and life insurance costs if he chooses to remain at ¾ time. Full-time employees who work for the City currently pay 10% of their health and dental insurance costs and nothing for the life insurance the City provides. The resolution would also change Keefe’s title from Sergeant to Lead or Senior Patrolman, pending approval of Police Chief Feaker and include $.50/hr raise effective January 1st, 2017. A roll call vote failed, leaving the handbook unchanged, when council members Sadler and Williams voted against the measure.
Two parcels of land were vacated and sold. The Council first took action to vacate Elm Street from the point where it intersects with the railroad tracks to 117 feet northeast of the intersection in La Porte City, then changed its zoning classification from M-1 “Light Industrial” to M-2 Heavy Industrial, before approving its sale to East Central Iowa Cooperative for $500.00 plus closing and survey costs.
The Council also vacated the real estate described as the north 1/2 of McCoy Avenue from South Street 95 feet west and the south 1/2 of McCoy Avenue from South Street 190 feet west in La Porte City, then approved its sale to Lloyd and Susan Bathen for $500.00 plus closing and survey costs.
In the public hearings for each of the properties in question, there were no written or public comments made regarding the transactions.
The Council reviewed updated cost figures for the new public works facility, which is nearing completion. Of the estimated $400,000 cost of the project, $150,000 will be funded from the sale of the City’s current public works facility to East Central Iowa Cooperative and $175,000 will be funded with a Black Hawk County Gaming Association Grant. The Council took action to approve the use of Road Tax, Sewer and Equipment Reserve funds for the remaining expenses on the public works facility.
In other business, the Council approved a resolution changing the second regularly scheduled Council meeting in December from Monday the 26th to Wednesday the 28th.