Borrowing increase in doubt after council vote

The Marshalltown City Council did not approve an increase in its borrowing limit with two council members absent during Monday’s regular meeting.

During the July 12 meeting, the council approved a motion to return with a resolution raising its borrowing limit from 60 percent of its legal debt capacity to 75 percent. Council members Mike Gowdy and Gabe Isom were not in attendance during Monday’s meeting. Gowdy was also not present during the July 12 meeting, but Isom was one of five council members who voted in favor of raising the borrowing limit during the previous meeting.

Council Member Bethany Wirin motioned to table the resolution until the next meeting on Aug. 9, citing the absent members. Martin seconded, but the motion failed with Gary Thompson, Al Hoop and Mike Ladehoff voting ‘no.’

There was no discussion at this point and the resolution approving the borrowing limit increase went to a vote. Thompson, Wirin and Ladehoff voted in favor while Hoop and Bill Martin voted against. City Administrator Jessica Kinser clarified despite the 3-2 vote in favor, the motion did not pass because it required a two-thirds majority of the council as a whole to pass.

Thompson later asked if there was a way he could bring the item back for reconsideration at the next meeting, citing language in the council manual stating he could take action within 10 days of the meeting.

City Attorney Roger Schoell was not in attendance to provide guidance on the subject.

Kinser said council rules allow any motion to reconsider can occur up to 10 days after the meeting, though she and Thompson found there is conflicting language between the council manual and code of ordinances. Kinser said this is something the city is looking to correct when revising the code of ordinances.

“We just told the taxpayers we don’t give a crap about how bad their streets are and we’re not going to fix their streets,” Thompson said. “In essence we just told every citizen of Marshalltown, ‘Your streets are going to continue to decline.’”

“Another side note is, if people are elected to be here, they need to be here,” he said.

Mayor Joel Greer advised Thompson to take action to bring the resolution back up for reconsideration in the case it would be allowable. If legal counsel confirms it is not allowable, the action will be invalidated.

Thompson motioned to reconsider the vote but the motion failed because it required all five present members’ approval to pass. Martin and Hoop again voted ‘No.’

“If legal counsel comes up with a different solution and it requires a special meeting, I would be amenable to that,” Greer said.

In other business

The council approved a resolution to apply for a grant from the Iowa Economic Development Authority for facade improvements. The grant is for $500,000.

Michelle Spohnheimer, housing and community development director, said staff in coordination with several organizations have identified several buildings for facade improvements. The estimated cost of the entire project is about $1.3 million. Last fall the city supported a resolution to match a grant request of up to $500,000. The cost to the city for the potential facade project is about $396,000. Construction would be limited to front facades and some side facades or roof work when authorized. This could include storefronts, upper story windows, brick repairs and awning replacements.

“This project would improve approximately 11 facades which is what is targeted right now in the blighted area,” Spohnheimer said.