The Cherokee City Council last week approved selling a tract of land abutting the north end of the Cherokee airport, and approved the proposed two-year labor agreement with the Cherokee Police Association that was previously scheduled to go to arbitration after the two bodies could not reach an agreement.
The land sale was for an unused 48X457-foot tract of land adjacent to the airport and abutting the loading docks of the Schoon Warehouse property off Lake Street. The land-locked property is not used by the City or the airport and is used only by trucks backing into and leaving the Schoon loading docks.
According to records, the City paid $3,326 for the tract as part of a larger purchase in 1985. The tract has no access to public roadway and is too narrow to be built upon.
The Council has agreed to sell the land to Schoon for $5,000 plus costs to be used to provide better turning and backing access into the Schoon Warehouse docks on the west side of the existing warehouse.
The City and CPA finally reached agreement on a two-year labor contract that calls for a 3-percent salary increase retroactive to July 1, 2011, and another 3-percent increase on January 1, 2012. Also, employees will pay 7-percent of the difference between single and family health insurance coverage effective Jan. 1, 2012.
There will be a 3.75-percent increase in second-year salaries effective July 1, 2012, and employees will pay 10-percent of the difference in health insurance effective July 1, 2012.
To receive the two-year contract, the CPA gave up a 1-percent salary increase for the first year and will pay 2-percent more for health insurance effective Jan. 1, 2012.
In other action, the Council set a Public Hearing for October 11, 2011 for the proposed Cherokee South Urban Renewal Area that includes a plan to use Tax Increment Financing (TIF) to allow the Cherokee Industrial Corporation to acquire the Olhausen Trailer Court, relocate the "eight or nine" residents still living there, clear the property, and place it on the market for sale for highway commercial, or light industrial uses.
The Cherokee Planning and Zoning Commission will hold a Public Hearing on the matter Tuesday night, to be followed by a City meeting with the other Cherokee County taxing entities - Cherokee School District, Cherokee County, and Western Iowa Tech Community College.
City Administrator Don Eikmeier has asked Schoon Construction and Lundell Construction for cost estimates to clear the approximate 7-acre site so total cost estimates can allow further discussion of the financing necessary to complete the project.
The "TIF" tool is used by cities to prompt public improvements that result in private investment that ultimately pay off the public improvement with the increased taxable value of the property. The City has used TIF on several occasions in the past to make street and utility improvements, among other projects.
The Council last week also authorized the demolition and clean-up of condemned structures at 301 S. 6th St. and 316 W. Locust St.
The Council approved a bid from Lundell Construction in the amount of $4,750 for the 301 S. 6th St. property.
The demolition of the condemned house at 316 W. Locust was awarded to Schoon Construction at a cost not to exceed $7,290, the remaining balance in the City's current budgeted fund for such demolition projects. Schoon's bids did not include firm landfill fees for the materials, whereas the Lundell bids did.
The Council also heard a report from Mark Buschkamp, Director of the Cherokee Economic Development Corporation, regarding plans to install a railroad spur south of Cherokee to accommodate rail shipments for Quad County Ethanol Plant of Galva.
CAEDC and the Cherokee Industrial Corporation have been working closely with Quad County Ethanol on the project that user fees would ultimately pay for to cover any local investment by the CAEDC, CIC, Cherokee County, and City. It was noted that the new spur also could prompt future commercial/industrial development in the area.
Eikmeier also told the Council that the City is not at all pleased with the "snail-paced" work being done by general contractor Godbersen-Smith on the West Cherry and North 11th Streets renovation projects, with no work being done for the past several days, despite good weather.
Eikmeier said Godbersen-Smith has not followed through on its pledges to complete the projects in a timely fashion and compounding the problem is the fall harvest has begun and detoured heavy grain loads are traveling residential streets and may damage them.
North 11th is a designated farm-to-market road designed to accommodate heavy farm equipment and grain wagons and trucks, but the street remains closed and is yet to be even paved because no work has been done there the past several days.
Eikmeier also lauded residents and motorists, and especially the West Cherry and North 11th Street residents, for their patience in the many construction delays. He said he has confronted Godbersen-Smith several times but gets no where with his complaints.
There were no hard/fast completion dates spelled out in the original bids so as to keep the costs as low as possible on advice from the projects' engineers, who maintain that contractors inflate their bids when completion dates are involved in the contracts.