An at-large city council, bow hunting discussed at Jeff council meeting

Jefferson city council members may all be elected at-large if a suggestion made by mayor Craig Berry at the June 28 council meeting is acted upon.

Berry, saying that he and city administrator Mike Palmer had discussed the idea, asked for input from council members about eliminating the three wards that have been in place for decades. Currently, one city council member is elected as a resident from each of three wards, and two are elected at-large. Berry suggests that all council members be elected at-large.

The four council members at the meeting were agreeable. Lisa Jaskey, elected from the second ward since 2012, said she has always considered herself as representing all residents. Harry Ahrenholtz, elected from the third ward in 2014, said it could give more people an opportunity to serve. Gary Von Ahsen, who has held an at-large seat since 2010, said there may be a number of good council candidates living in the same ward, and that at-large voting would allow them to run for office. Dave Sloan, who was elected at-large last November, agreed with a change.

Veteran council member Larry Teeples, who has been elected from the first ward since 1995, was not at the meeting. Berry said that when he spoke with him about it, his first reaction was concern about a situation of having multiple council members living on the same block. Berry said Teeples admitted that he pays attention to concerns and interests of residents outside the first ward. “There it is. We’re not Chicago,” Berry said in relaying the conversation.

The city council directed city attorney Bob Schwarzkopf to gather information about the process of eliminating wards and having all council members elected at-large.

Bow hunting: The council also directed Schwarzkopf to prepare an amendment to the current city ordinance that allows bow hunting in specific areas. Berry reported that residents Tong Long and Steve Harrison would like property adjacent to their properties on Hillcrest Place to be included in the ordinance. The area in question is along the Raccoon River and adjacent to an area where bow hunting is now allowed.

The ordinance specifies that bow hunting is to be done only from stands and names distances from residences.

Only Jaskey spoke against the change, saying she is opposed to any hunting in the city.

Schwarzkopf will prepare the amendment but the required publication costs and legal fees will be assessed to Long and Harrison, as has been done in the past.

In other business, the council held a public hearing on amending the urban renewal plan. The hearing lasted less than one minute, and the council then approved the required resolution enacting the amendment.

The council approved the first reading of ordinances to increase the water rate and the sewer rate by 3 percent. The increase is 30 cents on the base cost of water and 34 cents on the base cost of sewer usage. Rate increases are nearly annual in Jefferson to allow the city to hold money in replacement funds.

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