By Dave Fish, Belle Plaine Mayor
Dear Citizens of Belle Plaine:
Hang in there everyone, spring is kind of here!
Gee, I took a quick look at last year’s April newsletter. It was two pages, all addressing the relatively new pandemic situation that we found ourselves in …. little did we know how bad that would be, and then 2020 hit us with a derecho that would make our local lives even more miserable.
But like true Iowans, we have bounced back to battle the virus and pandemic situation, and even though it is not over, we seem to have a handle on how to fight it. As true Iowans & Plainsmen, we cleaned up after the worst storm of our lives. Even though we are not even close to being done, we are rebuilding and recovering from the Derecho. Hopefully, a year from now, this will just be a memory in the rear view mirror of life.
In last month’s newsletter, I talked about balancing the new budget and how it gets more challenging every year, depending on some of the things that the state legislature does or doesn’t do. Again, I talked about the budget that we start using on July 1, 2021, not the current one. Again, I will remind you that the state legislature is still in session. While groups such as cities, counties, & school districts are completing their budgets. It would be a lot easier if we already had their budget complete to see if there are any surprise cuts. At this point, we have the 2021-2022 budget finished, and of course, it is balanced. To truly understand the city budget, one has to realize it is not just one pool of money to spend any way we want. There are limits on where certain types of income can be spent. It would make the budget more accessible if every payment the City had coming in was placed into one account. Then we figured how and where to spend it, but that is not how the city government works. I do know our tax rate will be lowered from 15.8884 to 15.60920. Also, those letters you recently received from the county dealing with your property’s value were all developed through the county assessor’s office. (319-472-5211)
Just want to note that the city government had nothing to do with it.
The weather sirens were tested Friday, March 5, at 1:00 pm. The first complete test since they were damaged by the Derecho. They have been almost wholly rebuilt & upgraded. We can now set them off from both the fire station & the police department, giving us the capacity to by-pass the county if that need ever arises. (It also makes it easier to test them because we do not have to go thru the county communications operators.) We do realize that the poles need some work, but that will come at a later time. It was more important that we get everything up & running as we move into the spring of the year. We will go back to our regular testing on the first Friday of every month at around 1:00 pm.
Golf carts and UTVs
It is spring, and one of the first things that will come up is golf carts & UTV’s on the streets. Probably the easiest way to explain it is to just print the code. Also, any cart or UTV traveling thru Belle Plaine must be licensed in Belle Plaine.
ATVs are never legal to operate on the streets of Belle Plaine.
“Golf Cart” means a three or four-wheeled recreational vehicle generally used for transportation of person(s) in the sport of golf that is either electric powered or gas powered with a ground speed limited to 25 mph.
“Utility Trail Vehicle” as defined by Iowa Code Section 321I.1 means a motorized vehicle with no less than four and not more than eight non-highway tires or rubberized tracks that have a seat that is of bucket or bench design, not intended to be straddled by the operator and a steering wheel or control levers for control.
74.03 OPERATION OF GOLF CARTS/UTV PERMITTED. Golf carts or UTVs may be operated upon the streets of the City by a person possessing a valid Iowa driver’s license. Operators must comply with all applicable provisions of the Code of Ordinances of the City of Belle Plaine and the Code of Iowa related to motor vehicle traffic and parking regulations.
74.04 PROHIBITED STREETS. Golf carts or UTVs shall not be operated on the following streets, except to cross said street:
- State Highway 21 through the Belle Plaine City limits.
- 13th Street east of 7th Avenue.
74.05 UNLAWFUL OPERATION.
No golf cart or UTV shall be operated or parked upon city sidewalks or trails.
No golf cart or UTV shall be operated while under the influence of intoxicating liquor, narcotics, or habit-forming drugs.
No person shall operate a golf cart or UTV in a careless, reckless, or negligent manner endangering the person or property of another or causing injury or damage to same.
No golf cart or UTV shall carry more passengers than for which the vehicle was designed and for which there are seats available. A bench seat shall hold no more than three persons.
No golf cart or UTV shall be operated within the city parks on any grass area. golf carts and UTVs are permitted in the parking lots. Only upon special permission, of the City Council of the City of Belle Plaine, may golf carts or UTVs be operated on any grass area within the city parks.
Golf carts or UTVs operated upon City streets shall be equipped with a minimum of the following safety features:
- A slow-moving vehicle signs.
- A bicycle safety flag, the top of which shall be a minimum of five feet above ground level.
- Adequate brakes.
- If the golf cart or UTV comes with a manufacturer equipped seat belt, the seat belt must be worn during operation.
74.07 HOURS OF OPERATION. Golf carts and UTVs may be operated on City streets and in alleys only between sunrise and sunset.
74.08 SPEED. No golf cart or UTV shall be operated on any City street at a speed in excess of 25 miles per hour. Posted speed limits must be followed in accordance with the Code of Iowa and the City of Belle Plaine Code of Ordinances.
74.09 PARKING PROHIBITED. Golf carts or UTVs shall not be parked overnight on City streets or in alleys at any time.
74.10 PERMITS. No person shall operate a golf cart or UTV on any public street or alley, for any purpose, unless the operator possesses a City of Belle Plaine permit to operate a golf cart or UTV on City streets, issued by the Police Chief.
Golf carts or UTV owners may apply for a permit on forms provided by the Police Chief.
The Police Chief shall not issue a permit until the owner/operator has provided the following:
- A. Evidence that the operator is at least 16 years of age, and possesses a valid Iowa driver’s license.
- B. Proof that owner and operator have liability insurance covering operation of golf carts on City streets.
All permits shall be issued for a specific golf cart or UTV. Permit holders will be issued a number and a sticker to affix to the left side rear fender or similar component.
The fee for such permits shall be $7.50. Permits will be granted for one year, valid from January 1 through December 31. Permits may be purchased at any time during the year but will be valid only through December 31.
The permit may be suspended or revoked upon finding evidence that the permit holder has violated the conditions of the permit or has abused the privilege of being a permit holder. There shall be no refund of the permit fee. Should a permit be suspended or revoked, the owner or operator must receive a majority vote of the City Council to allow for reinstatement of an existing permit or issuance of a new permit.
74.11 PENALTY. In addition to the suspension or revocation of the permit, a person who violates this chapter is guilty of a simple misdemeanor punishable as a scheduled violation under Iowa Code 321.247 as defined by the schedule of violations under Section 805.8A, Subsection 3, paragraph “b” or as a municipal infraction under Iowa Code Section 364.22 with a minimum schedule of City fines:
- First Offense – $75.00
- Second Offense and Subsequent – $100.00
Burning and mulch
Another major topic is burning hours.
From September 1 thru May 31, they are 7 days per week between 4 to 9 pm. For the summer months of June, July, & August, they are Wednesday, Saturday, & Sunday from 4 to 9 pm. Please be considerate of your neighbors esp. if they have health concerns or wash hanging on the line. Remember, we have a mulch pile for all vegetation. Again, the mulch pile is for vegetation, not for wood, metal, junk, & other garbage.
We know there have been some serious problems with the current city website, so the council and the staff are dealing with a consultant to build a new website. After the April 7 meeting, we should be hiring a firm to replace the current website, but I was told that it will be like a 90-day time frame to get a
new one up and running, so be patient.
Another note from last April’s newsletter: REMEMBER HOPE HAS NOT BEEN CANCELED & WE ARE A NATION OF SURVIVORS & DOERS!
I think we have proven this over the past year. I would really like to thank all the essential workers. They stayed on the job to take care of us this past year that includes but is not limited to store clerks, police, fire personnel, ambulance workers, all city workers, teachers, and all those people in the medical profession. If I have left anyone out, it was not intentional but thank you to all of you who helped us get thru this year. Also, a special thank you to the Unity Point Clinic staff and their extra efforts to get out the covid 19 vaccines. Also, thank you to the group that has handled the parking situation at the clinic site.
With everyone’s cooperation, we will get through this whole mess.
As Always, “Go Plainsmen.” Remember, it is up to all of us to make Belle Plaine the best hometown in Iowa! (Mayor Dave Fish- April 2021)