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Charles City Council approves water department equipment purchases and projects

By Travis Fischer,

The Charles City Council approved a series of water department-related purchases during its regular meeting on Monday, March 6.

Superintendent Cory Spieker explained the need for each purchase, starting with a request to purchase a new vac truck.

A vac truck, which the city last purchased in 2012, is used to jet out sanitary sewer lines, keeping the pipes clean during regular maintenance and clearing them out when there is a blockage that could back up the sewer.

“It’s preventive maintenance that keeps everything flowing,” said Spieker.

A new truck will cost $612,039.36, which has been budgeted to be split among the sewer, street, and water department budgets over the next two years. A local contractor has also made an offer of $150,000 for the current truck that can be put toward the purchase.

City Administrator Steve Diers explained that contracting these services out to a third party was considered, but estimating a cost of $100,000 per year in contracted services, that it would be more expensive in the long run.

“If we get 10 or 11 years out of this, we have it paid for in six years,” said Diers. “Plus it’s nice to have it on hand available to us if and when we need it at the time we need it.”

The council approved the purchase of the vac truck, ordering it now with delivery next winter.

The council also approved the purchase of a portable generator for the pump station in the city’s high pressure zone. The high pressure zone supplies water to many of the city’s large businesses and industries, including Zoetis, Cambrex, Crowell, and the Floyd County Medical Center.

In the event of an extended power outage, this high pressure zone would be susceptible to a period of pressure loss as the city’s water towers equalize with each other. A generator would allow the city to continue to pump water into the tower to mitigate that pressure loss.

The portable generator, quoted at $89,942.51 from Perry Novak Electric, could also be used in other situations as needed. The quoted price is almost $5,000 more than the water department had budgeted for and adjustments will be made to cover the difference.

Finally, Spieker and Diers went over the proposal to contract Northway Well & Pump Co. to plug the city’s Well No. 4 for $50,000.

Built in 1939, the deteriorating well is not in use and, to Spieker’s knowledge, has not been used in actual service since he’s been on the job.

“We really don’t need it and in the long run it’s going to cost us more than it’s going to provide for us,” said Diers.

The council approved the plan to plug the well.

In other business, the council held the second reading of an ordinance to update the city’s property maintenance code. With Police Chief Hugh Anderson’s input, the city is updating property codes to match the current International Property Maintenance code standards and including redundant portions of the code into the city’s rental property code to make it easier for landlords to reference.

“We wanted to make sure that it is clean and was understood by our landlords,” said Anderson.

The council also set a public hearing date to approve the maximum levy rate for the fiscal year 2024 budget, which will not be the overall levy rate.

“The poorly named ‘max levy’ is only a certain number of levies, not all of them,” said Diers.

The max levy rate is slated to be $14.3645 per $1,000 of assessed taxable valuation this year and will be part of the ultimate overall city levy rate of $16.5366. The public hearing will take place during the council’s March 20 meeting.

The council will meet next for its regular workshop on March 15 at 5 p.m.



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