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Council discusses “top priorities” at work session

Editorial by Matt Marquardt –

City Administrator Brent Trout updated the City Council Tuesday on progress that has been made on its goals or “top priorities” for 2012.

Despite giving up on the pursuit of a multi-purpose arena in the near future, the council has still sent Trout on a quest for a “certified shovel  ready site.”  He is working with Brent Willett of the North Iowa Corridor to evaluate land options.

“Streamlining the Fire Department” is also on the council’s goal list, much of the issue here centers on the council’s problem with paying emergency responders overtime, which amounted to over $50,000 last year.  Changing of shift lengths from the current 24 shift was shot down by Trout and the council seemed to take it in stride that no change there would be made.  No other solutions to the overtime issue were advanced.

Perhaps the most controversial goal of the council is to issue requests for proposals for garbage (sanitation) and recycled items pickup in the city.  The mayor and some council members are bent on eliminating the department and firing the dozen or so workers there.  As Councilman Scott Tornquist said, those workers should “welcome” the RFP process, as it may “prove” they are efficient at their jobs.  Trout, serving in the Iowa National Guard over the last several weeks, was not able to make progress on this goal for the council but will be picking up where he left off.  He may have an update for the council on July 31st at a work session.

A goal of major importance is the passing (renewal) of the local option sales tax that is set to expire.  The goal is to add this item to the November 6, 2012 ballot.  It has passed easily in the past.

Another goal touched upon was growing the population of Mason City.  It was said that “low hanging fruit” amenities might help that along, like a park with wireless internet access, for example.  Councilman John Lee said that the city should look “aggressive” at dealing with crime issues so that people are not scared away from moving here.

Finally, the council has directed Trout to meet with the Human Rights Commission.  It was not revealed what that meeting might entail.  Trout, Bookmeyer and the council members have mostly avoided discussing the HRC ever since it was revealed that Bookmeyer and Tornquist (pictured) were on a mission to shut it down.

Watch video of goals discussion:


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