Category Archives: News

Seeking Vocalists for Easter Cantata

St. Paul United Methodist Church in La Porte City, invites any interested community members to join a choral group which will perform a 30-minute musical, “In Christ Alone,” created by Tony Wood and Russell Mauldin. The musical includes simple but powerful narration along with new and classic songs for the Easter season. Practices will be held on Wednesday evenings and possibly Sundays to accommodate more people’s schedules. You don’t have to be a professional singer, just someone who loves singing the Lord’s praises!
Choral books and practice CD’s for individual vocal parts will be available. Performance date(s) will depend on how many community members participate. If interested, please contact Peg Mullen at 342-3477 or email pegmullen@lpctel.net, as she will order books in advance.

Jan. 31 Quilting Event: “Returning the Favor”

Join friends for a day of quilting while helping provide quilts for “Return the Favor,” a non-profit charity that donates handmade quilts to terminally ill people wherever they are needed. This year’s event will be held Saturday, January 31 from 9 AM – 4:30 PM at the Traer Memorial Building, located at 414 2nd Street in Traer.
Jobs for all ages and ability levels are available. Not a quilter? Your help is also needed. Come help, enjoy a potluck, hourly drawings and purchase a chance to win the queen size quilt pictured at left ($1/ticket).
If questions, please contact coordinator Merry Backes at 319-827-6703.

Balancing Act

BalancingAct
Flat Tax Base Challenges City’s Capital Improvement Plan

In 2015, the City of La Porte City has no shortage of projects designed to improve the community’s infrastructure. What it doesn’t have, unfortunately, is enough money to adequately fund them all.

As the City Council prepares its budget for FY2016 (July 1, 2015-June 30, 2016), there are several capital improvements on the City’s “to-do” list:
Street Repairs: The Public Works Department has identified a number of La Porte City streets in need of repair. First on the list for 2015 are West Main Street and Third Street at an estimated price tag of $280,000. Beyond this year, additional street repairs await the go-ahead from the Council, which will need to find more than $900,000 to fund them all. And that’s not counting the cost to reconstruct the four blocks of Main Street that are part of the City’s Downtown Streetscape Plan.

Streetscape Renovation of Downtown La Porte City: This project would involve a complete reconstruction of the streets and sidewalks in the 200-500 blocks of Main Street. The plan would include working with La Porte City Utilities to run new water lines and relocate power lines underground. In June 2014, the overall cost to complete the project was estimated at $1.52 – $1.88 million.

Downtown Facade Improvement Grant: Administered by the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) and funded by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, a Downtown Facade Improvement Grant would provide funds for La Porte City to improve the appearance of its commercial buildings in the business district. If awarded, the grant would provide $500,000 for façade improvements, including items ranging from masonry work and tuck-pointing, to windows, doors and awnings. Grant awards for the coming year will be announced by early summer and, if awarded, the City has committed $150,000 in matching funds in support of the downtown property owners, who will be funding the remaining 25-30% of the project’s total cost. If awarded, work on La Porte City facade improvements would likely begin in the summer of 2016.

Construction of a New Public Works Facility: A new public works facility located in the vicinity of 101 Elm Street would house all of the City’s machinery and equipment and provide suitable space to properly service them when needed. Preliminary estimates project the construction to cost around $500,000.
Rehabilitation of Wolf Creek: Last October, the City of La Porte City was awarded a grant of $75,000 from Resource Enhancement and Protection, commonly referred to as REAP. The grant money will be used for Phase I of the Wolf Creek Reclamation and Park Development Project. The first phase of this project involves the acquisition of approximately 1.93 acres of land at 504 Tama Street, stream bank reclamation along both sides of Wolf Creek, and the installation of a canoe/kayak access point. The stream bank reclamation along Wolf Creek will include clearing, grubbing, excavation, rip-rap, and seeding. The total estimated costs of Phase I are $113,036.00. While the grant will fund the bulk of the project, the City will be responsible for the nearly $40,000 needed to complete the first phase.

How quickly the City can begin to address the projects that make up its capital improvement plan will depend upon the amount of money the City Council can squeeze out of its budget. The City’s primary source of revenue comes from the taxes assessed to residential and commercial property owners. In 2014, the City’s property tax base grew by just 0.6% to $61,043,000, an increase of just $380,000 over the previous year. Because of property tax rollbacks put in place by the state of Iowa and a number of other factors, the meager increase of La Porte City property values will result in a net gain of less than $6,400 of property tax revenue in the City’s FY2016 budget.

Last November, when work on the FY 2016 budget began in earnest, the City Council issued a memo to each department head, presenting them with a target spending goal for their operational budgets. The budget reduction requests, which did not include the wages or benefits for each department, ranged from a 4.5% cut (Public Works) up to a 16.7% (Administration) reduction in spending. If met, the target goals would allow the City to realize a savings of more than $106,000, some of which would be used to help fund wages and benefits for City employees in FY 2016, as the City could see an increase of as much as $15,000 in its health insurance rates.

Answers to the budget questions that remain will need to be found in the coming weeks, as the City enters the final stages of the budgeting process. In La Porte City, difficult decisions remain before the members of the City Council, as they seek to balance the desire of maintaining city services while holding the line on property taxes.

Hawkeye Community College Bond Vote is Feb. 3

Voters in Hawkeye’s 10-county service region will be asked whether to approve a $25 million bond issue on Tuesday, February 3. The bond will address the following community needs: additional workforce development programs and services for adult students; expanded capacity in high-demand fields such as healthcare/advanced manufacturing; and additional career academies in high schools and the College’s outreach centers.
Since an existing levy is ending, this measure will not result in an increase in Hawkeye’s overall property tax rate. For the average homeowner, the bond issue will cost approximately $1.10 per month on a home valued at $100,000. The bond rate would be in effect for 10 years. Under state law, issuing general obligation bonds is the primary funding mechanism for community colleges to finance new construction and major renovations of existing buildings.
If approved by voters, funding would be used for a new adult education center replacing the College’s Metro and Martin Luther King Jr. Centers, a new health sciences technology center, expanded job training and educational opportunities at high schools and off-campus outreach centers, and a renovation of Grundy Hall.
Registered voters can vote early by mail by completing a request form from their county auditor’s office or located on the Iowa Secretary of State’s website at www.sos.iowa.gov. The deadline to request an absentee ballot is January 30 at 5 PM. Absentee ballots may be cast in person at the county auditor’s office until 11 AM on Monday, February 2. Pre-paid return postage is provided for all ballots returned by mail. A mailed ballot must be postmarked on or before February 2 or it will not be counted. Absentee ballots may not be turned in at a polling place except to be surrendered and voided, in which case the voter would vote in person at their precinct. Polling locations for the special election will open at noon and close at 8 PM on Election Day.
The last day to pre-register for this election is January 23, before 5 PM. Any new voter, who registers before the deadline, will not be required to show proof of residence and identity. Following the deadline and on Election Day, new voters will be processed using the requirements of Election Day Registration and must provide proof of residence and identity.
Registered voters in the following school districts can vote: Allison-Bristow, Aplington-Parkersburg, Cedar Falls, Clarksville, Denver, Dike-New Hartford, Dunkerton, East Buchanan, Gladbrook-Reinbeck, Grundy Center (Grundy Community), Hudson, Independence, Janesville, Jesup, Nashua-Plainfield, North Tama County, Sumner, Tripoli, Union Community, Wapsie Valley, Waterloo, and Waverly-Shell Rock.

Iowa Boat, RV & Vacation Show Comes to UNI-Dome

Boating and outdoor enthusiasts will get the first look of summer at the 27th Annual Iowa Boat, RV, and Vacation Show, Presented by Ford, January 23-25 at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls. Marine and recreational vehicle dealers will showcase the state’s largest indoor showroom of dealers and new models. More exhibits and special performances for families and anglers will also be featured and are included with admission to the show.
Boat and RV displays will be featured by over 25 dealers at the Iowa Boat & RV Show. Attendees can shop hundreds of new models at pre-season prices and take advantage of last chance close-out units. Special financing and manufacturer incentives and rebates will be offered by many dealers at the show.
More exhibits at the Iowa Boat, RV, & Vacation Show include family resorts, U.S. and Canadian fishing camps, Lake Michigan sportfishing charters, campgrounds and tourism destinations. Truck enthusiasts can shop bed liners, toppers, covers, and other accessories. Fishing tackle will be offered at this year’s show with everything to get ready for spring action.
Special Features at the show include RV Adventure Videos on-the-hour all three days, presented by John Holod. Holod is an internationally recognized cinematographer who has filmed all over the world. John stands out in the travel-film industry because he travels in a state-of-the-art Roadtrek or Winnebago RV, immersing himself in the culture and surroundings he’s depicting. Videos featured at the show include “Alaska Adventure by Highway & Ferry”, “Route 66 RV Adventure: Exploring the Mother Road”, “Rocky Mountain RV Adventure: New Mexico to the Canadian Rockies”, and “East Coast Adventure: Maine to the Maritimes and Newfoundland.” Presentations are held in the media room on the lower level of the McLeod Center.

Iowa Boat, RV, and Vacation Show
UNI-Dome, Cedar Falls

Friday, January 23…………..2 PM – 9 PM
Saturday, January 24………..10 AM – 8 PM
Sunday, January 25………….11 AM – 4 PM

Admission: $7.00 Youth 12 and under FREE
Friday Specials: $4.00 from 2 – 5 PM
FREE PARKING!

Detailed show information and discount coupons can be found at: www.iowashows.com/boatrvshow or follow Iowa Shows on Facebook and Twitter.