Street project, budget before Traer city council

The city continues to move forward with phase one of a street improvement project. Following a March 22 public hearing in which no comments were received, the council approved a resolution that allows the city to issue a loan agreement not to exceed $1 million for the 2021 street project.

An engineering agreement was approved with Veenstra & Kimm, Inc. to provide services during the design and construction of the project. The firm will assist the city with the bidding, design and implementation processes for fees that may reach $125,000.

Included in the 2021 project are sections of Elm Street, 1st Street, Mill Street, Walnut Street and Mowery Street.

The next step in the street project will be seeking and receiving bids for the construction work.

Another public hearing was held on March 22 for the annual city budget for fiscal year 2022. No comments were received on the matter and once the hearing was closed the council voted unanimously to approve the proposed budget.

The city property tax rate will see a slight increase from $19.08 per $1,000 to $19.26 per $1,000. The increase is due in large by employee insurance and benefits costs.

In the upcoming year the city will relieve old debt from a number of past street projects and offset the payoff amount with the upcoming 2021 street improvement project.

With the relatively low property tax levy from the North Tama school district, Traer will remain positioned in the middle third of Tama County municipalities by overall property tax rate.

In fiscal year 2021 the city of Tama held the highest overall tax rate at $43.92. Lincoln and Elberon were the cities at the lowest rate, just under a rate of $30 per $1,000.

Although the school budget has yet to be finalized, it is expected that Traer’s overall property tax rate should remain around the $38 per $1,000 for the upcoming fiscal year.

Mayor Holden discussed with the council his interest in purchasing a piece of city-owned property west of the Salt & Pepper Shaker Gallery on 2nd Street.

Holden hopes to combine the vacant, 5,000 square foot city parcel with the 14,000 square foot vacant parcel directly to the east owned by the Traer Development Corporation.

He indicated at the March 22 meeting that he was interested in building a manufacturing business on the site.

The Traer Development Corporation originally acquired the larger lot in 2006 through a tax sale.

Demolition has progressed steadily at the former Traer power plant next to city hall through the month of March. The Traer Municipal Utilities organization determined demolition was the best course to deal with the vacant, aging structure that had become potentially dangerous in its position between the city hall offices and the Traer fire station.

Hatch Grading & Contracting has been on site since early March and hope to wrap up the project in the next week or two.

No indication has been given yet as to any future development plans for the site of the former power plant facility.