Cherokee's City Council last week approved the first readings of proposed ordinances establishing a 2-percent franchise fee on natural gas and electricity, and approved a resolution to adopt the City's proposed fee schedule.
The revenue from the franchise fee will generate an estimated $80,000 annually with those monies targeting repair of existing public improvements, buildings, facilities, and properties; energy conservation; disaster prevention; public safety; construction and maintenance of streets, bridges, and sidewalks; and economic development.
The ordinance to pass requires three readings and is scheduled to go into effect July 1, 2010.
Of the various City fees included in that proposal, all fees remained the same as last year except for the Koser Spring Lake Yacht Club rental, Koser Spring Lake Shelter #1, and the monthly Koser Spring Lake camping fees.
Yacht Club rental is now $100 for all day with a $100 deposit, and $65 for a half day with a $30 deposit. Shelter #1 is now $25 a site including electrical and water. Camping at Koser Spring Lake Park is now $320 monthly rate, up from $260. All other camping rates remain the same.
The City's building permits and inspection fee schedule also was adjusted. The current $25 fee for a permit value of $2,000 increases to $40; the $74.50 fee for a permit value of $25,000 goes to $106; the $120.50 fee for a permit value of $50,000 goes to $200; the $174.50 fee for a permit value of $100,000 goes to $375; and the $184.50 fee for a permit value of $200,000 goes to $425.
The last hike in fees for Cherokee was in 1999.
For comparison, a building permit for a $200,000 home in Storm Lake is $975, Orange City $670, Sioux Center $778, Denison $775, Algona $575, and Spencer $230.
The City requires builders to notify it for inspections of footings before the concrete is poured, water service connections, and storm sewer connections.
All municipal fee structures can be accessed at City Hall.
In other action, the Board heard a detailed report from City Recreation Director Dave Ellis regarding operations of the Bacon Aquatic Center. Ellis said many changes have been made to help control the budget and increase revenues after last season, which was plagued with cold summer temperatures and staffing problems.
Ellis said he and one assistant will manage the Aquatics Center instead of he and two assistant managers last year. This will save $315 per week.
There will be no admissions staff, with lifeguards now shuffled on their breaks to cover the admissions desk, saving $50 per day. Ellis estimates 24 lifeguards will be employed versus 33 last year, and the guards will be held more accountable and some will be on call, weather depending.
Last year swimmers and their families complained about the pool's frequent closings both announced and unannounced. Ellis said this summer the pool will be open regular hours as long as the temperature is 70 degrees or more.
The staff will closely monitor the weather and if there is a threat of severe weather, the pool will immediately close and may reopen after the danger passes. No refunds or rain checks will be issued.
The Council also discussed the possibility of a pool cover to combat cold temperatures at night which chill the water rapidly and make it difficult for the heaters to heat the water during the daytime. Ellis said he had checked them out and found that covers are cost-prohibitive.
Concessions also will be beefed up with more attention paid to product mark-up and inventory on hand, said Ellis.
"We're going to give it (pool) as many chances as we can this year to be open," explained Ellis. "We learned a lot last year."
The Council also approved a $4,000 donation and a letter of support for a Community Action and Tourism (CAT) Grant for the Cherokee County 4-H Betterment Project at the Fairgrounds.
That project consists of an 80x200 multi-purpose livestock building with an attached smaller building housing restrooms, office space, etc. Fundraising has been under way for several months and the 4-H is nearing its goal.
The City monies will come from Tourism Grants via the hotel/motel tax.
The Council also accepted the low bid of $18,100 with trade-in from Holzhauer Motors for a budgeted new Chevrolet Tahoe for the Police Department.
The Council also agreed to close Main Street for the Cherokee Youth Summer Youth Baseball/Softball (CYSBA) Parade during Hot Dog Days May 13, and to close U.S. Highway 59 in town for the annual Cherokee PRCA Rodeo Parade June 5.
City Administrator Don Eikmeier also lauded the many volunteers who showed up on short notice to fill and stack sand bags at Koser Spring Lake Park to keep the flooding Little Sioux River out of Spring Lake.