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Council moves to allocate remaining 2024 ATE revenues before new law takes effect

Special meeting to be held; Legal review also pending

T-R PHOTOS BY ROBERT MAHARRY — Members of the Marshalltown city council, including Mayor Pro Tem Mike Ladehoff (filling in for Joel Greer) and City Consultant Cindy Kendall (filling in for City Clerk Alicia Hunter) look on during Monday night’s meeting.

With time running out before a new law regulating traffic cameras and the way the revenues they generate can be spent takes effect on July 1, the Marshalltown city council attempted to address the lingering questions of how the money will be allocated going forward and how to handle two agreements that will no longer be considered legal uses at the beginning of next month.

City Consultant Cindy Kendall, filling in for usual City Clerk Alicia Hunter, kicked off the discussion by explaining the changes, which limit the legal uses of Automated Traffic Enforcement (ATE) revenues to funding police and fire departments and city infrastructure. Last fall, the council had voted to allocate up to $125,000 annually to the implementation of the Arts+Culture Master Plan and up to $250,000 annually to parks, community beautification and code enforcement, but those contracts will be nullified once the new law is enacted.

Kendall also noted that the city will have to reapply for permits with the Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) to continue utilizing ATE, and she then asked if the council would prefer to designate percentages for the revenues in the future. Councilor Greg Nichols weighed in first and said he would like to base it on funding needs as they arise instead of locking in percentages.

Councilor Gary Thompson felt that if the city is allowed to keep the cameras, a line item should be added for the Marshalltown Police Department’s (MPD’s) K9 program, which Kendall responded is already well positioned financially.

“I know the police officers that are here tonight will disagree with me, but I think every officer needs a K9 partner,” Thompson said.

Marshalltown Police Department Captain Chris Jones, left, fields questions from resident Jim Shaw, right, on traffic cameras and Flock cameras during Monday night’s city council meeting.

Police Chief Mike Tupper stepped forward and joked that Capt. Kiel Stevenson, who was also in attendance, would definitely disagree with him on the K9 matter, but he then noted that there is some money in the general fund for the program.

“The community’s always been very generous with the K9 program, and when we’ve had significant needs — and it’s happened twice in the 13 years that I’ve worked for you — the community has stepped up,” Tupper said, before referencing an upcoming discussion on body and vehicle cameras and tasers. “So I think it’s a great idea, but we’re about to talk to you about a very significant project.”

The Marshalltown Police and Community Team (MPACT) currently does not have a long-term funding source once grants expire, so Tupper also suggested that program as a potential destination for ATE dollars. Councilor Barry Kell then echoed the comments Nichols made about not feeling comfortable making allocations before the appropriate departments know what they need.

After Thompson asked Kell if he was making a formal motion, Kell, in a slight change of gears, noted that the city has a total of $137,500 remaining that has already been collected during Fiscal Year 2024 and not appropriated in any of the three previously designated areas. Kendall commented that she believed they were designated for cameras in FY25, and Kell did not believe the council had given such direction.

Kell provided figures on how much of each agreement had been fulfilled thus far — 90 percent for police technology and prevention, 50 percent for the Arts and Culture Master Plan and 54 percent for community beautification and code enforcement. In the form of a motion, he then proposed taking the outstanding balance of the soon to be void agreements — $62,500 to the Arts+Culture Alliance and $114,000 for beautification and code enforcement — and allocating 78 percent of the remaining balance to each contract and drawing down the fund to follow through on year one of the commitment and then moving forward with the legal uses come July 1.

Councilor Jeff Schneider, who seconded the motion, said he would support it because he believed the commitments were still council priorities despite the law change. Thompson sought clarification on whether the law would take into account whether the funds were earned before July 1 if they are paid out after that date.

“I don’t have a problem with the motion going forward. I think there needs to be some legal and some financial things looked at if this is gonna hold water and come back to us,” he said.

Kendall said the check to the Arts+Culture Alliance would have to be cut by Friday, June 28, as the organization was originally supposed to be paid on a quarterly basis. Thompson noted that there wouldn’t be a regular council meeting until after July 1 (the item on the agenda was only up for discussion), and Schneider said a special meeting could be arranged before then.

During the public comment period, Lonnie Hogeland expressed concern about having a special meeting to address a single item, and 4th Ward city council candidate Mark Eaton asked for the motion to be read back before sharing his view that the upcoming body and vehicle camera discussion, with an estimated price tag of over $800,000, should take precedence over the matter at hand.

Kell’s original motion passed by a 4-2 vote with Thompson and Mark Mitchell opposed. At presstime, no details had yet been shared on when the special meeting will be held.

Before the council could move on to the next item, Schneider asked for a point of order on whether the allocations going forward had been resolved, and he then motioned to leave the future funds unallocated. That motion passed by a unanimous vote.

In other business, the council:

• Approved the consent agenda as listed.

• Heard a quarterly report from MPACT Advocate Suzy Reed and an annual report from Arts+Culture Alliance Executive Director Amber Danielson.

• Approved an application for a city license for garbage and refuse and recyclable hauler for Le Grand Sanitation.

• Approved a five-day liquor license for Midnight Ballroom at the Central Iowa Fairgrounds Arena for a rodeo on July 27.

• Approved a special Class C retail alcohol license for the 13th Street District event on July 3.

• Approved five-day special Class C retail alcohol licenses for the Friends of the Orpheum Theater for Live after 5 events on July 5, 12, 19 and 26.

• Untabled three resolutions and approved the conveyance and transfer of properties at 510 E. Main St., 406 Lee St. and 708 Lee St. to RMB Cooperative, each by a 4-2 vote with Kell and Schneider opposed.

• Approved a resolution for a professional services agreement in the amount of $263,000 with HR Green Inc. for design services on the Water Pollution Control sludge thickening improvement project.

• Approved the conveyance and transfer of title for the property at 24 N. 1st Ave. to Mobius Group.

• Rejected, by a 5-1 vote, the transfer of the property at 817-819 N. 5th Ave. to Catherine Gooding, with Thompson as the lone affirmative vote. Schneider commented that he didn’t want to support Gooding due to her “unsavory tactics” in the Marshalltown real estate market, a likely reference to a widely read story about her use of Iowa’s “Quiet Title” law to acquire properties back in 2022.

• Approved a lease agreement with ImOn Communications at 403 Player St.

• Approved the second reading of an ordinance amendment to Chapter 118 regarding peddlers, solicitors and transient merchants.

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Contact Robert Maharry at 641-753-6611 ext. 255 or

rmaharry@timesrepublican.com.

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