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Diverted funds to help pay for parking lot paving, SRNA shelter

New city hall, new spending

By Paul Deaton
Solon Economist

SOLON– The new city hall is open for business at 101 N. Iowa Ave., where the city council held its first meeting on May 21.
But it still needs a parking lot.
Diverting budgeted funds to pay for parks and recreation projects and paving the city hall parking lot were discussed, along with a report on an addition to the fire station.
The meeting began with a moment of silence in remembrance of North Liberty Mayor Tom Salm, who died suddenly on Sunday, May 18.
After thanking staff for contributions to the effort to open city hall in time for the meeting, council members heard from Fox Ridge resident Donna Kessler about dead fish and debris being left on yards after heavy rain events. Council also approved the consent agenda and a second reading of Ordinances 414 and 415 which would raise city sewer and water rates effective July 1.
Work on city hall is not finished. Public Works Director Scott Kleppe reported on the status of the parking lot– an approximately $22,000 expense.
“Knowing that we had no money budgeted for any parking lot whatsoever, we discussed the possibility of taking that out of road use (during) the next budget year starting July 1,” he said. “I’m here asking you to go ahead and allow me to utilize the road use funds to finish out this parking lot.”
“(The asphalt company) would be able to get in here Friday and we could have this whipped out in a week,” he added.
The condition of city streets after a hard winter was favorable to diversion of those funds without sacrificing completion of needed repairs, Kleppe indicated. After a discussion, the council gave its consent to the spending.
Kleppe concluded his report with details about the completion of city hall. Air conditioning was installed, a new monument-style sign should be delivered this week, and landscaping is on schedule for completion.
The council previously rejected a budget proposal to build a shelter in the Solon Recreation and Nature Area (SRNA). Travis Young, parks and recreation coordinator, proposed the council divert the unspent balance of $13,932 from the department’s FY 2013-2014 budget to projects to upgrade the SRNA ball diamond, create a new ball diamond, and build a shelter.
The proposal included $40,000 for the ball fields, plus $12,736 for materials and concrete work for a shelter. The shelter estimate does not include the cost of labor, in hope that some labor would be donated if the project proceeds. City funds would be combined with contributions from the Parks and Recreation Trust Agency, Solon Beef Days Committee and the Solon Area Community Foundation to complete the work, according to Young.
“Parks and rec mentioned to me that (they) were looking to build a shelter and didn’t have any money,” said Denny Gruber of the Solon Octagon Club and the Solon Area Community Foundation. “The foundation has funds that could help with this project.”
He indicated funds up to $8,000 were likely to be approved by the community foundation if the city decided to proceed with the project.
“The Octagon Club has (already) approved a donation of up to $2,500 for a shelter if it is deemed necessary by the city,” Gruber added.
“In a usual circumstance, any money left over at the end of the year goes into our surplus,” said Cami Rasmussen, interim city administrator, regarding the unspent balance in the parks and recreation budget.
A motion to approve diversion of funds to the project passed unanimously with Mayor Pro Tempore Brad Kunkel absent. Gruber said he would bring a check in the amount of $2,500 from the Octagon Club to city hall.
Stange reported on a recent meeting between Fire Chief Bob Siddell, Councilor Mark Krall, Rasmussen, himself and others on options for a potential fire station expansion. The project would include the addition of a bay on the south side of the building, taking out all or part of the existing meeting room space to be used for storage, and then building a training addition on the back side of the building. The city is working with an architectural firm on project designs.
In other business, council approved pay applications and change orders for city hall, and approved a certificate of completion and final payment for the well four chemical feed building project.