Jeff council discusses railroad quiet zones, animal shelter

The Jefferson city council meeting Aug. 8 was a showcase for grassroots politics as council members responded to residents’ concerns during the open forum. The quest for railroad quiet zones was revived at the insistence of one resident, and the council received a petition calling asking the council to make a new animal shelter a priority.

Marieta Coil, who moved from the north end of town to W. Harrison St “because the noise was making us crazy,” asked about the status of closing railroad crossings. “I want to know where you’re going with it. It’s something that’s detrimental to a lot of people in this town, unless you don’t really care about us,” she said.

City administrator Mike Palmer said the quiet zones had been taken off the streets committee after a public meeting earlier this year.

Mayor pro tem Harry Ahrenholtz told her railroad crossings have received a lot of discussion. When Coil persisted, he and Palmer said it would be on the agenda for the streets committee meeting next Tuesday.

Coil asked about the animal shelter, saying she’s not “an animal lover,” but “the dogs run wild. There’s no place to put them. The gals who do P.A.W.S. need the facility for the animals. They need a decent facility.”

Council member Dave Sloan chairs the animal shelter committee. He said there is no dispute that a new shelter is needed. He reported a recent quote on a Morton building is $625,000 and that he planned to get a quote from Wick Buildings later this week.
Ahrenholtz is also on the committee. He said the proposed operating budget is a good one. “We’ve had weekly meetings for the last two to three months. We’re working on it. I feel like we’re working pretty hard,” he said.

“It’s more complicated than just building a building and saying ‘OK, bring the dogs in’,” Ahrenholtz said.

Coil also asked about beautification of the east entrance and the $720,000 price tag to implement the entire plan. She was assured that nothing has been spent and that nothing will be done unless there are grant funds available.

Phyllis Crowder also used the open forum to present to the council a petition signed by 111 residents asking the council to make a new animal shelter a priority. She and Adrienne Smith collected the signature in July.

Council member Matt Wetrich clarified that an earlier statement that the shelter is not a priority was based on the list of priorities determined by a survey of council members late last year.

“The city is supporting this whole-heartedly. We’re working as hard as we can,” Sloan said.
Agenda items – The city council approved the first reading of ordinances to increase residential water and sewer rates by 3 percent. The water base rate will increase by 31 cents per month and the sewer base rate will increase by 36 cents per month.

Those rates increase annually to assure the city is able to add to fund for eventual replacement of the water treatment and wastewater treatment plants.The council approved a resolution in support of the park and recreation department submitting a Resource Enhancement and Protection (REAP) grant application to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources for improvements to the walking trail at Daubendiek Park.

Park and recreation director Vicky Lautner explained the asphalt trail was constructed with a $74,000 REAP grant years ago and needs to be replaced. The park and recreation board wants to apply for a $75,000 grant to put toward the $302,600 cost of a concrete trail. Lautner said she will also apply for funds from the Iowa Department of Transportation and Grow Greene County.

The council passed a resolution approving using $72,000 in local option sales and service tax (LOSST) funds to pay for the city’s share of resurfacing Elm St (Highway 4) next summer. The DOT is paying most of the cost; the city is paying for curbs and gutters and work on manholes.

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