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Charles City Council OK’s Nashua ambulance pact, communications director trial, NIACC property swap

Charles City Council OK’s Nashua ambulance pact, communications director trial, NIACC property swap
Charles City NIACC Career Academy site plan and floor plan (preliminary).
By Travis Fischer, [email protected]

The Charles City Council approved an agreement to include the city of Nashua into the service agreement with American Medical Response (AMR) ambulance service during its regular meeting on Monday, Nov. 21.

With Nashua set to lose ambulance coverage at the end of the year, city officials have approached AMR about getting service through AMR for the immediate future. AMR staff have said they don’t expect the agreement to affect their ability to serve Floyd County.

“In a lot of ways, we do respond to Nashua already,” said City Administrator Steve Diers.

The six-month agreement will provide ambulance service within the city limits of Nashua for a payment of $10,000, with that money split evenly to the city and the county. The rate is based on the number of calls expected from the community.

Of the three entities involved in the agreement, Charles City is the first to sign off on its approval. The Floyd County Board of Supervisors tabled action on the agreement at the board’s meeting Monday because the County Attorney’s Office hadn’t reviewed the contract yet, but supervisors have said they support the agreement.

The Nora Springs City Council also needs to approve the agreement.

Diers suggested that the agreement may lay the groundwork for a continuing partnership, but also noted that Nashua is looking into starting its own service. In either case, this agreement will serve as a stop-gap measure until a long-term solution can be decided on.

The council also discussed another sharing agreement at the meeting, this time concerning the creation of a communications position to be shared among the city, the Charles City Community School district, Floyd County, and the Charles City Area Development Corp. (CCADC).

The position is being created to accommodate Justin DeVore, who currently serves as the director of communications for the school district. In the past, the Charles City Broadband Commission has paid the school district to run the Public Access Network (PAN), using cable television franchise fees from Mediacom. Those fees have been falling in recent years, and this year the commission did not pay any funds to the school district.

According to Mayor Dean Andrews, the city has long discussed having a social media manager, but doesn’t have enough need to justify a full-time position. Under this arrangement, the school will pay for half of the position’s salary, with the city covering a quarter and the remaining two eighths split between the county and CCADC.

Working with each entity, DeVore will be able to coordinate communications for the various entities, both internally, as they often work in tandem, and for the public, creating a unified image for the community.

The proposal involves a six-month contract to serve as a trial period as the involved entities determine exactly what each of them wants from the position.

“We’ll look to review this on a monthly basis and tweak it to see if this is something we want to do in the long term,” said Diers.

After a lengthy discussion on the topic, the council approved the agreement in a 3-2 vote, with council members Keith Starr, Phoebe Pittman and DeLaine Freeseman voting in favor. Council members Phillip Knighten, who wanted more specific details about the positions duties, and Patrick Lumley, who was concerned about the expense, voting against.

In other business, the council held a public hearing on the first reading of the Unified Development Ordinance, which updates and combines the city’s current zoning and building ordinances. The council addressed questions that had been asked about the ordinance, including language for radon detection and frost footing depth, with it being explained that those matters are already addressed by state building codes.

The council also set a public hearing date to allow the public to comment on plans to sell a portion of the city-owned parking lot adjacent to the NIACC building to be used for NIACC’s career center expansion. As part of the exchange, NIACC has agreed to give the city the north portion of the block, which would give the city control of the sidewalk and the Kelly Street right-of-way .

The public hearing was scheduled for the next meeting, on Dec. 5.

In addition, another public hearing was scheduled for the Dec. 19 meeting to incorporate the upcoming Cambrex Expansion into the city’s Urban Renewal Plan. Set in the SW Bypass Urban Renewal Area, the city must amend its plan to award Cambrex its qualified local incentive. Cambrex will receive a six-year property tax rebate of 90%, up to $400,000, for the expansion, along with a forgivable loan of $48,750 for the 39 qualifying jobs. CCADC is also offering a forgivable loan of $22,500 for the expansion.

In related business, the council approved the annual TIF Certification Report, which details all of the projects and funding requested across the city’s four TIF districts for the fiscal year.

The annual urban renewal report and street finance reports for the year were likewise approved.

The council also approved a pay request of $225,871 to Portzen for completed work on the WRRF project for erosion control and fence work. It is the 34th pay request on the project, bringing the total amount paid to $17,560,729.38.

Finally, Diers updated the council on some personnel matters, reporting that they are reviewing applications for a city code enforcement officer and hope to have an update on the city engineer position very soon. Previous code enforcement officer Jason Webster resigned to become the director of Floyd County Emergency Management Agency, and City Engineer John Fallis is retiring.

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