From the desk of the Belle Plaine mayor

Belle Plaine Mayor Dave Fish

Dear Citizens of Belle Plaine:

A huge thank you to the Belle Plaine Volunteer Fire Department for their outstanding effort on a cold Sunday morning to get down all the Christmas decorations. Once again, the BPVFD comes thru on another city project.

The month of February & March for the council, the administrator, the clerks, and the Mayor means budget time. Budgeting gets more difficult each year as decisions by the state chip away at some of the funding sources that cities use. The idea that we can simply raise property tax to meet our needs is inaccurate. Plus, the money we collect from our utilities has specific state regulations on spending. Every year the council takes a serious look at a variety of things to see if we can trim something. If your property tax goes up, you must look at all the players in the taxing situation, not just the city, and see if your property’s value went up. The county assessor has been working in that area.

We have not raised garbage rates since we signed on with Republic in the past several years. Yet there has been a raise in the amount we pay them as there are cost increases built into the contract for every year. Our yearly audit showed the garbage fund is in the red, and we have to do something to correct it. Garbage rates will be raised by $1.09 per month to cover the deficit. We will be looking at a new garbage contract soon to see what Republic offers. It might be time to bid it out to possibly another company.

Water and sewer could be a different story, but that is set by code in another manner, so we first have to see what the cost of living at the national scale has done and see where those budgets are projected to be at the end year. Water main breaks, well issues, and sewer problems we plan for, but we can never predict or control those. We know the water side of the budget is still operating at a deficit, and we will have to address that again. Also, problems like drilling new wells or adding a filtering system to our wells will cost money. Yes, there are grants out there that we will apply for, but there are no federal or state grants that will cover all the costs. When we did the new sewer plant addition, I reminded everyone that it was ordered by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, not something the City of Belle Plaine dreamed up. The only grant we could get for that project was $600,000 of a $3.1 million project.

Another factor that makes budgeting challenging is that everyone below the state level has to complete their budgets before knowing what the state legislature will be doing with taxation. No matter what, it does not make February and March easy months for those involved in government agencies.

Add in other groups I deal with, such as Benton Landfill, Benton Development, East Central Iowa Council of Gov’ts, Emergency Management, & the 911 Committee, who all have budgets to be developed. You have an idea of why government workers are tired of budget work by the end of March. (I’m sure the clerks & the administrator are even more tired of working on the budget than the Mayor or the Council.)

The general motto at our level of gov’t is, how do you do more with less?

A quick discussion about snow removal: the city’s top priorities will always be the streets, and on snowy days, that means the business district, roads to the school, & streets to get to work, + residential. Alleys are about fifth on the list and always have been for decades. We will start removing piles of snow in the business area and other areas on day two, if possible.
Also, there is no parking on city streets during a snow emergency.

Main Street is off-limits from 2-5 am all the time. (This is especially important during snow removal times, both emergency & non-emergency & during the street cleaning season!)
Yes, we sometimes have trouble getting Main Street perfectly clean. One of those reasons is because we allow parking on Main Street during snow emergencies when the businesses are open, thus making it more challenging to get done. Also, the large bio-cells create a real problem in clearing 12th Street. Also, if nature doesn’t have the snowfall in a timely manner, it makes it even more challenging to remove. Most of our streets will never be as clean as Highway 21 because the state has a lot more technology than the city will ever be able to afford.

Also, the brine they use would destroy all our seal coat streets.

Registration on pets has started; the sooner you get it done the less chance to pick up a late fee!

Do not forget to get out and support the local athletes in basketball & wrestling, plus the band & cheer squads that also perform.

If you wait much longer, they will all be playing tournaments! The Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union made a significant commitment to officially sanction girls wrestling as a high school sport in Iowa. As usual, Iowa has been more committed to the female athletes than just about any other state in the United States!

As Always, “Go Plainsmen.” Remember, it is up to all of us to make Belle Plaine the best hometown in Iowa!

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