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INDEPENDENCE – Setting a new fine for refusing to have a remote water meter installed was among the many public hearings during the April 26 meeting of the Independence City Council.

Although the City of Independence has had a remote water meter program for several years, in October 2020 they hired HydroCorp of Brookfield, Wisconsin, to install up to 2,650 around town. The program to replace existing interior water meters with exterior water meter readers was set up to have the city pay the initial cost of the meter and installation.

As part of the discussion regarding the project, City Manager Al Roder informed the council that approximately 500 residents had refused to schedule an installation time or refused entry to technicians. Since city code provides for the city to be “permitted to enter the premises of any customer at any reasonable time to read, remove, or change a meter,” the council approved the first reading of the ordinance change, which states in part, “If an individual refuses the City entry for purposes of replacing an existing interior water meter with an exterior water meter reader, such person shall pay a monthly administrative fee in the amount shown on the Fines and Fees Schedule in Section 1.15 of this Code of Ordinances, which fee shall appear on invoices for the individual’s combined service account unless or until the individual allows the City to facilitate such replacement.”

The monthly fee would be $50. Due to the time constraints to finish the project in the current fiscal year, the council voted to waive the second and third readings and adopt the change immediately.

Other Council Business

- Financial reports were approved.

- The 15th Independence BrewBQ event was approved for Saturday, August 28. Organizers are lining up several breweries, food, and entertainment. This year’s proceeds will benefit the Buchanan County Fair’s 4-H building project.

- The Second Saturday Series at the Independence Farmer’s Market was also approved. LACES is lining up four musical groups to play this year.

- The council approved combining a “General Purpose Loan Agreement” created to borrow an amount not to exceed $380,000 for the purpose of constructing recreation trail improvements with a future “Essential Purpose Loan Agreement” in an amount not to exceed $2,596,000 for the purpose of paying for several projects, including street, water system, stormwater drainage, and sidewalk improvements; street lighting, signage, and signalization improvements; improvements to the municipal airport; and acquiring vehicles and equipment for municipal parks and the public works department. Further action on the combined loans will be taken at the June 28 council meeting.

- Both second readings of rezoning requests by Pries and Thomas Fischels were approved.

- The second reading to change an ordinance in order to remove property located along Enterprise Court from a TIF district was approved.

- The second reading of a proposed change to Section 69.08 (Parking) passed. The change is to allow parking on the south side of 9th Street SW, from 6th Avenue SW to the end of the street east, and ban parking on the north side.

- A proposed change to Section 65.02 (Stops Required) passed. The city will add stop signs at 2nd and 4th Street NW where they intersect with 6th Avenue NW.

- A public hearing to discuss adding a food truck section to City Code was scheduled for Monday, May 10.

- A public hearing to discuss the 2021 Downtown Sidewalk Replacement Project was scheduled for Monday, May 24.

- An agreement with Dave Schmitt Construction to “extend water service lines to curb stop” was approved for the amount of $100,454.75.

- A public hearing was set for Monday, May 10, to discuss Sewer Revenue Refunding Bonds.

- A change order in the amount of $2,647.28 and the Final Payment Request in the amount of $41,161.95 for the 2018 Airport Taxiway Project was approved. The project is funded 100 percent by the FAA.

- The RISE Grant Funding Agreement with the Iowa DOT for Enterprise Drive E extension and Larson Lane construction was approved.

- The council approved an application for COVID-19 Federal Recreation Trails Funding for paving Liberty Trail from Iowa Avenue to Triangle Pond Park.

- A public hearing to discuss the approval of Fiscal Year 2021 Budget Amendment and Budget Transactions was set for Monday, May 24.

The meeting adjourned at 7:25 p.m. The next regular city council meeting will be Monday, May 10.

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