Sheldon, Iowa — The Sheldon City Council heard a number of comments from the public at their Wednesday meeting, during a public hearing on issuance of general obligation capital loan notes in an amount not to exceed $3.4-million to be used for a new events center. The first speaker was Rick Nordahl, who spoke in favor of the proposal telling the council that, “you truly believe in this community showing that families truly come first”. Nordahl was followed by Denny Klatt who complained that the voters had nothing to say about the project.
Later in the hearing City Manager Scott Wynja explained that moving the project back now to plan for a vote could result in losing the $840-thousand Vision Iowa Grant. Wynja said that the grant committee expects funding to be in place within a certain deadline to assure them that the funds are being put to use.
Marv Van Riesen said that he hasn’t seen the plans and specifications for the events center and wanted to know why the public has not been informed. City Manager Scott Wynja answered that there are two sets of the plans available at the city office, and people have stopped in to look them over. Mayor Meendering explained that one hundred percent of the specifications are done and there will be another public hearing at the next council meeting to approve those specifications. Van Riesen then questioned the contingency fund which had been included in the projected cost of the project. He said that this should be deducted from the $3.4-million bond issue. Wynja explained that the bond issue is ‘not to exceed’ $3.4-million and the city will not lock in the total they will borrow until the bids are known.
At that point the mayor said, “This has not happened overnight, all council meetings are open to the public and the City Office is open every day for people who have questions”.
When it came time for the council to vote on the bond issue, Council Member Randy Fonkert said he had been struggling with this issue for some time. He said the proposed events center is a beautiful building, but the City should first take care of other needs such as the new water tower, affordable housing and improved streets. Council Member Zach Sawyer said that housing is a major concern, but he didn’t see how that correlates with the events center. Councilman Pete Hamill commented that affordable housing has always been a concern, but if the City only does one thing at time, in his words, “We’ll never get anywhere”.
Fonkert also commented that there is legislation being proposed which would prevent the use of Tax Increment Financing for projects such as the Events Center. Hamill reminded the council that this idea has been proposed for many years, but never passes because it would hamper growth and development in small cities. Wynja pointed out that Sheldon is seeing a nice increase in development which is making it possible to get more things done.
Council member Greg Geels said that he was, “proud as can be”, of the projects that have made Sheldon a better place to live. He also felt that housing is a “good problem to have”, and that another housing unit was on the Council agenda. The four-unit residential structure in the Trilogy Addition is to be built by Van Roekel Rentals. It was reported that the previous units built by this company were already fully-occupied.
After the discussion the Council voted to approve the bond issue, with Fonkert casting the lone ‘no’ vote.
The Council also voted in favor of taking additional action on the matter and approved the bond counsel engagement agreement. Fonkert also voted against these proposals. After the votes Councilman Hamill explained that all this could be re-addressed at a later date, but as he said, “we can’t get there until more information is available.”