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Council Hears Opposition To Proposed MidAmerican Energy Franchises

Sheldon, Iowa — After hearing a series of critical comments on the proposed MidAmerican Energy franchise agreements, the Sheldon City Council voted to pass the subject on to a second reading at their August 21st meeting. The agreements which would include a two-percent non-residential fee and a five-percent residential fee on MidAmerican Energy bills in Sheldon, are being proposed to cover the increased costs of vehicles and other expenditures for the city’s emergency services departments. During the public hearing Terry Braaksma, Marv Van Riesen, Laurie Anderson and Kerwin Sterler were among those speaking in opposition to the franchise agreements. The one common complaint was the increase in property taxes.

Braaksma said he would do everything he could to oppose the franchises. Van Riesen said there are people in Sheldon that can’t even afford toilet paper and they can’t afford this additional expenditure. He said he could show the city that there was room in the current budget to pay for a new fire truck. City Manager Sam Kooiker said that without the income from the franchise fees the City would have to bond for the expenditures, and the city needs to reserve the bonding option to pay for a new water tower and the upgrading of city streets. He pointed out that the city council has already decided to put the issue to a vote of Sheldon residents. If the council decides to proceed, the wording for the ballot would have to be submitted to the County Auditor by September 20th. At this time Sheldon is the only MidAmerican Energy city in Iowa that doesn’t have a franchise agreement in place. As a side note it was revealed that MidAmerican has purchased the former Thermo-cel building, which relieves the city of the burden of having to find a way to dispose of the structure.

Another project that generated a lengthy discussion was the proposal to merge the two city employee unions into one. Such a merger would require a very complicated process, and the council decided to take no action on the plan.

In other action, the council spent some time discussing a proposed agreement for a city-wide revitalization plan. This plan would be a tool to encourage renovation and re-building on older lots which may not otherwise be developed. The plan would provide for property tax exemptions for several years on the increased value of the building. The council decided to discuss the matter further in a workshop session following the next council meeting.

Rob Dixon was at the council meeting representing the Sheldon Airport Commission. He questioned why Kellie Einck was being suggested for appointment to the commission to replace Skip Tanner whose term is expiring. Dixon said Tanner was experienced in the position and a valuable member who was willing to serve another term. Dixon said he understood that the move was being made to create ‘diversity’ on the commission. Appointments to the Airport Commission are made by the City Council. The Council wanted more information and decided to continue the matter until their next meeting.

The council also set a public hearing for August 21st on the proposed Jinkinson Second Addition on East 9th Street.

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