Reaction to the Monticello council minutes from April 2

Letter to the Editor

To the Editor,

     Mayor Brian Wolken called the meeting to order. (What exactly does the mayor do besides call the meeting to order? Looks like the city administrator runs the show.)

     First: Raising our sewer bill $20 to cover the sewer plant upgrade.

     “A facility plan will at some point be necessary if the city is required to update the treatment facility, which is deemed to be likely in the not too distant future.”

     I messaged the city council Facebook page with information on a grant that is available to Monticello to cover 35 percent of the project, saying the grant has a deadline of July 2. Whomever messaged me back, from the city council, said, “Call City Hall.” Hmm, guess they weren’t too interested.

     At the Jones County Safe and Healthy Youth Coalition meeting Wednesday, April 11, Cindy and Karen from the USDA Rural Development program shared info that Monticello does qualify to apply for the new grant. This could cover 35 percent of the cost of the sewer project. The other 65 percent would need to come from other sources. A low-interest rate (3.something percent) loan would be available. The loan term has a 40-year payback period.

     (Currently Cindy and Karen are helping another town in Jones County write a grant for a new sewer system.)

     Second: “Herman reported that the Police Chief City Code requires residency within city limits during employment with the city. Chief Smith has requested an allowance to live outside the city limits. Herman prepared the ordinance to amend Police Chief Residency requirements to within 5 miles. Herman felt by contractual agreement, that a restriction could be imposed. Council discussed amending the ordinance to require that any restrictions related to residency be included within the employment agreement.”

     His, police chief, residing address “outside the city limits” is still Monticello.

     Third: “Herman reported that the City Code requires the City Administrator to reside within City Limits during employment with the city, or as stated in contract. Herman requested an allowance to live outside the City Limits. (He) is currently living outside the city limits.”

     His, City Administrator, residing address “outside of Monticello city limits,” is Delhi. That is 23 miles OUTSIDE of Monticello. Delhi is in Delaware County, which is OUTSIDE of Jones County. Would the City of Monticello or the City Council hire someone else from another city and county to replace the current City Administrator? Probably not. Then why write an amendment that opens the door for that?

     Quick, what does Ordinance 500 say? I don’t know either. Google “Jones County Iowa Ordinances,” then click on the first entry, or any in that list. You will get: “Jones County Ordinances – current as of 1/1/2017. The official Jones County Code of Ordinances… Chapter Section & Title Last Update.”

     Google: “Monticello Iowa Ordinances.” Click on any or all of the entries. If you are using Google Chrome, you will get: “You are here: Home/Not Found: Error 404. The page you are looking for no longer exists. Perhaps you can return back to the site’s homepage and see if you can find what you are looking for.”

     It is of my opinion that with the 700-plus city ordinances that are written, amended, revised, proposed, and new policies made, too much time and resources are being spent on taking out a project that was put in a few years prior. The City of Monticello belongs to the people who make up the community of Monticello. The city council is to represent the people living in Monticello. The city council is not just the “good ol’ boys club” where the rules are written just for those in office.

     One last thought, would Anamosa hire someone from Olin to be their city administrator? Monticello is a place where people come to live, play, work, grow and learn… Too many restrictions suffocate; changing the rules all the time confuses; continually taking money (whether it be through property taxes, increases to garbage and water bills, 3 percent charge from the gas bills, and whatever other utility bills…) from the residents (especially those on fixed incomes) depresses. We need more flowers, butterflies, laughter, happy chatter, sunshine…

Brenda Hanken

Monticello, Iowa



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