New London gets swept up in debate

By Gretchen Teske, Mt. Pleasant News


NEW LONDON ? New London citizens felt their concerns were swept to the curb at last night?s city council meeting. The item of concern was a $100,000 Elgin Pelican street sweeper from Trans Iowa Equipment.The council scheduled the first item on the agenda to be a hearing on the purchase and the second item a motion to approve it, but not before several residents voiced their concerns.

On Tuesday, June 5, the New London City Council met in regular session. The first item on the agenda, the purchasing of a street sweeper, greatly raised citizen concern. Former council member Frank Staley was upset over the purchase due to lack of funding. ?I want to know how in the world you can justify borrowing $100,000,? he said. ?We don?t even have money to pay the light bill.?

Staley went on to say he did not feel the council was using taxpayers? money appropriately and wanted them to reconsider. ?I just think it should be something that you better reconsider because you?re not watching the taxpayer dollars enough,? he said.

Chance Davis, wife of councilman Tom Davis, echoed his sentiment and wondered why citizens weren?t given more notice about the purchase. ?It just seems a little backward that it didn?t go to the city council first,? she said.

Tracy Trejoof also spoke up on behalf of the New London citizens to say he did not see a need for a new sweeper when the old one could just be repaired. He claimed the new machine would be smaller and less efficient, needing more people than previous. ?Now you?re making a one-man job into a two-man job,? he said.

Council member Kirk Miller spoke up in the council?s defense by saying the life of the current sweeper had worn out and it was time to replace it. ?We?ve looked at a lot of options (and) we feel this is the best one we have,? he said. Council member Tom Davis spoke up in opposition, saying he did not see the need for an immediate replacement. ?I personally think we?re spending too much money right now,? he said. ?I think it could wait a year or two.? Miller made the motion to purchase the sweeper and it was approved 3-1 with Davis opposing. Brad Helmerson was absent from last night?s meeting.

The council then approved a resolution to enter into a loan agreement with Danville State Savings Bank for the purchase.

Continuing with outdoor talk, the council discussed and approved the proposed movies in the park for the summer. The July movie date is set for July 6, but the projector equipment is not available. City Clerk Kasi Howard is going to try to have the date changed to July 14 or 21 instead. The movies and dates are as follows:

June 23: Dispicable Me

July 6 (date subject to change): Coco

Aug. 18: Peter Rabbit

Driving in for the movies was also a topic of conversation as the council discussed their policy on ATVs, UTVs and golf carts on main roads. The council was in agreemant over not allowing ATVs due to safety concerns, but golf carts and UTVs could still be on the table. If they were to approve them, the council decided they must have working lights- headlights, turn signals and brake lights. The vehicles would require registration and would not be allowed on sidewalks or in city parks. The conversation was tabled for a later date as the council decided to take time to reflect on the safety concerns. ?We all want to make sure we?re covered as a city and look at all safety aspects,? said council member Dan Berner.

Citizen safety was also a topic for discussion last night as the New London Police Department asked for the ride-along age to be lowered to 17. A high school senior, not yet 18, wanted to take part for school purposes, but did not meet the age requirement. The council approved the motion. The council also approved a $25 flat fee, to be paid by the city, for an on-call officer to be available if the need arises. The extra officer will contribute to public safety as there is the possibility of three officers on scene instead of two.

In other business, the council approved a drive-up drop box for utility bills. The box will be behind the community hall and emptied first thing in the morning. Anything dropped off after that time will be considered late.

The council also discussed policy and prices for rental agreement for the new community hall. They decided to rent the hall for $75 per event, per day, with a $40 deposit with the hope of renting the hall for two events a day. ?(The deposit is) refundable if you take care of it,? Miller said. The motion will be drafted and approved at the next meeting.

The council then discussed signs for the outside of the building. The council decided to seek out bids and will hear them at the next meeting.

The next meeting of the New London City Council will be Tuesday, July 3, at 6 p.m. in city hall.