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City Council approves speed camera ordinance

By Travis Fischer,

The Charles City Council approved an ordinance during its regular meeting Monday evening that will allow the use of speed cameras in the city.

The new Automatic Traffic Enforcement ordinance sets out how speed cameras will be used, from how video and images are generated to the process of contesting a citation, to the fines for the municipal infractions.

Proposed earlier this year, Charles City is contracting with Altumint Inc. to have speed cameras installed at several high-traffic roads coming in and out of the city.

Adamant that the speed cameras are intended to curb excessive speeding on those roads, the city has said that the cameras will be set to trigger an automated citation, which will be a civil infraction rather than a criminal charge, only to vehicles moving beyond a set amount past the posted speed limit.

“At the end of the day, it’s about safety,” said council member Patrick Lumley.

Fines will range from $25 to $400, depending on how much over the posted speed limit the captured vehicle was moving.

It was noted that the ordinance also includes a fine for failure to stop at a red light, but Police Chief Hugh Anderson explained that there are no current plans to install red light cameras.

“We left that in just in case,” said Anderson. “At this time there won’t be any installed.”

With the ordinance approved, the speed cameras can now be installed and, presuming they are put in before the ground freezes, it is expected they will be in place by Jan. 1.

In other business, the council approved the appointment of two members for the Civil Service Commission. Becky Boerschel was chosen for re-appointment for another term on the commission and Pete Kloberdanz was appointed to fill a long-open vacancy.

The council also approved the appointment of Joel Farnham to the Housing Board to replace Beth Diers and finish out the remainder of her term.

Mark Wicks of Main Street Charles City was present via Zoom to answer questions about a street closure request for the annual Holiday Fireworks show planned for Saturday, Nov. 25.

“This is the same as it was last year,” said Wicks.

The fireworks show will last about 10 minutes and require closing the Main Street Bridge from 6:30 p.m. to no later than 7:15 p.m. on Saturday night.

Moving into regular business, the council held a public hearing before finally approving the city’s Capital Improvement Plan, which lays out priorities for major projects and purchases over the next five years.

“This is the culmination of a long effort,” said City Administrator Steve Diers. “For the next five years we have an idea of what we’d like to see.”

In other business, the council approved the purchase of two new police vehicles. The first will be a 2023 or 2024 Ford Explorer expected to be available in January at a cost of just over $40,000 with the final amount to be determined. The second will be a 2024 or 2025 vehicle purchased from Mason City Ford expected to arrive in 2025.

The council also approved a rate increase request from Jendro Sanitation. As discussed at previous meetings and workshops, Jendro has asked for a rate increase to account for an increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) and landfill costs. While the 5.9% CPI increase was non-controversial, the council challenged Jendro’s initial request for a 2.5% increase to account for higher landfill costs.

After providing additional information about average household usage, Jendro amended its request to an additional $0.15 per household, which the council agreed was more appropriate.

The new rates will go into effect on December 1.

Finally, the council accepted the completion of the 2023 SW Watermain Looping Project, releasing the final payment of $55,631.63. The final cost of the project came out to $447,228.05.

The council also approved Pay Request No. 9 for the Million Gallon Clearwell Project in the amount of $278,729.05, following the approval of a change order that decreased the cost by $17,463 due to the return of unneeded materials.

“It’s always good to have a reduction,” said council member Phillip Knighten.

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