The Mason City City Council and Mayor met tonight at the Mason City Public Library to hold a goal setting session.| The Mason City City Council met tonight at the Mason City Public Library to chart future goals and concerns for 2011. The meeting was put together and conducted by Mark Jackson, City Administrator of Story City, Iowa. Jackson is said to have some skill at running goal setting sessions for city governments.
Some of the general goals for Mason City outlined at the meeting were:
- Maintain a sound financial position
- Sound infrastructure and and safe community
- Fun city for amenities
- Attractive community
Some of the concerns about Mason City laid out were:
- Lack of living wage jobs
- Escalating cost of (city) employee benefits and pensions
- Loss of homes through floods and through purchases by floods and Mercy Hospital (erodes the tax base due to tax-exempt status)
- Future budgets with expenditures outpacing revenues / balancing budgets
- Adverse impact on businesses due to Streetscape project
- Current state of the economy
- Continued tax increase trend
Councilman Max Weaver expressed concern about Mercy Hospital and Good Shepherd Nursing Home, as well as churches, owning large amounts of property in Mason City and paying no local taxes on those properties due to their tax-exempt status. “They call the police and fire and other services like the rest of us, they should pay taxes too,” he said. “There’s always a squad car parked outside the emergency room at Mercy. They should hire more private security.”
Councilman Don Nelson talked about resolving a large, outstanding water bill that the North Iowa Fairgrounds has not paid. Weaver says the City can recover payment of that bill from Cerro Gordo County.
Council members disagreed on nuisance code enforcement going forward in Mason City. Max Weaver said he was against Mason City Police spending any time or resources enforcing nuisance codes. Nuisance codes involve police patrolling and issuing tickets for untidy properties with junked cars or other debris. Councilman Scott Tornquist disagreed, saying “We cannot manage our community to the lowest common denominator” after Councilman Travis Hickey stated “Some people can’t afford to move their junked cars,” referencing a recent issue in his neighborhood where a neighbor couldn’t afford to pay the fine for nor move a junked vehicle. Neighbors eventually came to the person’s aid and pulled together and got the vehicle out. “The nuisance code worked perfectly, having neighbors come together to get the car moved, in the end,” Tornquist said.