Six things to know from Dysart City Council

The Dysart City Council — including Mayor Tim Glenn (visible second from left) — met in City Hall on Wednesday, October 13, 2021. Photo by Ruby F. Bodeker

Adding sewer debt fees to vacant properties, a new pocket park, and the resignation of a city employee were just a few of the items addressed during the regular meeting of the Dysart City Council on Wednesday, October 13, 2021 in City Hall beginning at 7 p.m. Mayor Tim Glenn presided over the meeting with all council members in attendance — city clerk Tabby Kaiser was in attendance by phone.

1. Mary Behrens with Vision Dysart presented a plan to the council during the public comment portion of the meeting regarding the downtown open space located between Eikamp Insurance at 314 Main Street and the public library. The space is now empty due to a large tree being removed. Vision Dysart would like to install a pocket park in the space. Behrens drew up a tentative design for the park and handed out copies to the council members. Behrens’ plans for the park include concrete tables and chairs — in order to make the maintenance “as carefree as possible” — and a “fine aggregate” floor that would be “friendly to wheelchairs.” Behrens listed several grant opportunities Vison Dysart plans to pursue in order to partially fund the park. Some of the grants Behrens would like to pursue require cities to have an investment in the project with a cash match, she said. The group asked the council for their blessing to “proceed to develop the idea and the design” as well as to work on pursuing funding opportunities. Mayor Tim Glenn told the group they had the council’s blessing to proceed as indicated.

2. The council set Dysart’s Halloween for Sunday, October 31 from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

3. During Public Works superintendent Shawn Fisher’s report, the council was told Public Works employee Jamie Kane put in his two weeks notice to resign. “He is going to not be with us,” Fisher said. No reason was provided for Kane’s resignation.

4. Following discussion between the council, Chief of Police Joe Hols, and Ambulance Director Julie Scadden, the request from the Dysart Police Dept. for an Employee Wellness Initiative with Joe’s Gym was granted — the motion passing unanimously. Chief Hols told the council he had three officers who would use the program, giving the city a discount on the monthly membership fee. The council decided to look further into adding fire and EMT members as well. The city will be paying for the membership fees. Chief Hols told the council this is a “standard benefit” of other law enforcement departments that don’t have an on-site wellness facility for officers to use. “We’re trying to keep up with everybody else,” Chief Hols said.

5. The council voted to enter into an agreement with the nonprofit Mid-Iowa Community Action (MICA) for the Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP). According to the Iowa Department of Human Rights’ website, LIHWAP is “part of an ongoing effort to address the financial impact of COVID-19.” The state of Iowa has received more than $10 million in federal aid to help those who have fallen behind on water bills, face disconnection of water service, or have already been disconnected. Through the agreement with MICA, LIHWAP benefit payments will be made directly to the City of Dysart on behalf of households who qualify for “past-due charges, fees, and taxes for drinking and wastewater services.” This program is similar to LIHEAP which many low income Iowans are familiar with and utilize to help with energy costs.

6. The council voted unanimously to begin the process to add a sewer debt fee on vacant properties to the ordinance book. The fee currently sits at $32 per month. The council also voted unanimously to begin the process to condemn a property on Connell Street — a “pink house” as it was referred to by council members and the mayor. The quote to condemn the house was $9,200. Superintendent Fischer said the tornado that came through Dysart this past summer further damaged the vacant structure. The council also decided to begin the abatement process for a vacant “blue house” located on Fayville Street and not pursue condemning that particular property at this time.