Jeff council hears of ‘second opinion’ on $4 mil drainage project

Also sells Kendall Building, adds $1 mulching charge

Private citizens have paid for a “second opinion” on a proposed drainage project in the area surrounding Wild Rose Resort after they decided the $4 million project is too pricey.

At least two meetings have been held at the casino with representatives of the city, the county, Greene County Development Corporation and other stakeholders about additional development there. A large truck stop is the most often named project. Storm water drainage is a challenge. Bolton & Menk did a drainage study that led to a proposed project that would cost $4 million.

Kim Rueter, who owns property west of Wild Rose, told the Jefferson city council Tuesday that he and Tom Timmons, president of Wild Rose Entertainment. “Four million is a big number. We have financial investments in that property, and we don’t know how we’d ever get it developed out with that kind of number,” Rueter said.

He said they hired another company to do a “fly-over…to see if the numbers are right and if there are any other ideas. It’s a second opinion on the project.” He did not name the firm they hired.

The agenda item that drew Rueter to the meeting was consideration of hiring Bolton & Menk to do a study of benefit and cost allocation for the project. The city intends to pay for only a portion of the project and to do a special assessment against landowners for the rest. That cost will be spread out depending on the benefits each parcel would realize, the same as agricultural drainage districts calculate cost shares.

The council proceeded with the cost allocation study at a cost of $5,000. The information will be available regardless of the scope and cost of the total project.

Kendall Building: In other business, the council held a public hearing during which no one spoke, and then approved a purchase agreement with Ray and Rosie Tucker for 111 E. Lincoln Way, now known as the Kendall Building.

The sale price is $45,000. The Tuckers will sign a note for that amount, forgivable over 10 years, at $4,500 per year. The city will lend the Tuckers up to $105,000 to finance improvements still needed. That will be matched by a $74,400 from a Main Street Challenge grant through the Iowa Economic Development Authority. Region XII Council of Governments will put up a $32,000 second mortgage on the building. Finally, the Tuckers are putting $60,000 of their own money into the project.

Mulching charge: The council approved with very little comment a $1 monthly increase on residential water bills to cover the cost of mulching brush at the city yard waste site, starting July 1. The increase is expected to raise about $21,000 to cover the $20,000 cost of mulching.

Façade rehabilitation: The council also approved the plans and specifications and other details for construction on the façade rehabilitation program in the Main Street district. The Franks Group will handle the bid announcements, with bids due March 23. The council will award the contract at its March 28 meeting, with construction to begin soon after.

Tax abatements: Under the consent agenda, the council approved tax abatements for the 2016 totaling $1,423,900. Council member Gary Von Ahsen pointed out that the list includes only two new homes, and that construction on only one of them was started in 2016. Neither is in one of the new subdivisions. “We need to be doing something to help that situation,” Von Ahsen said. “It’s a problem. We need to try and solve it.”

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