By Diane Graff
WATERLOO — The Waterloo Common Council waived impact fees for the Waterloo School District to construct a new gymnasium and update its facilities when it met Thursday.
The ground has already been broken for the project with dirt being moved to make way for a new gym on the property at North Monroe Street. The project also includes an additional restroom in the elementary school, along with upgrading of other restrooms and the fitness center.
After months of discussion, the council voted 4-2 to waive the impact fees, which are estimated at $22,238.
The fees would help the district close a gap in funding for the project.
According to the resolution, impact fees are funds that are collected in order to pay for the capital costs to construct, expand or improve public facilities that are necessary to accommodate land development in Waterloo. Impact fees are intended to ensure public facilities are adequate to meet the development needs of the city and that developers pay a proportionate share of new, expanded or improved facilities required by such development.
Impact fees are usually paid when a building permit is issued.
At its May 9 meeting, the council approved school safety crossing measures as proposed by the school district, but tabled the request to waive municipal fees. The council tabled action on the fee waiver to allow the finance, insurance and personnel committee to review. The committee recommended the impact fees be waived for the district’s facility improvements.
In a letter to the city earlier this year, school district Administrator Brian Henning requested the city allow the school to tie into its storm sewer with a drainpipe north of the Karl Junginger Memorial Library and east of the school bus lane to divert water from the parking lot and prevent excess water flowing to the library.
The school district also proposed it purchase and install solar powered pedestrian crossing signs near Anna and Henry streets to improve safety for anyone crossing North Monroe Street.
The district will purchase and install two solar speed indicator signs to warn motorists of the impending school zone and help forewarn drivers of the need to proceed with caution. After the installation, the signs would be turned over to the city for ongoing maintenance.
At its meeting in May, the council approved the safety crossing measures.
And third, the Waterloo Fire Department identified a fire hydrant project that would provide improved water availability for the west side of the school building in the event of a fire. The district would need to tie into the city water lines so that a fire hydrant and supporting pipe can be run across the school property and hydrant installed on the backside of the building, Henning wrote.
Because the three projects were not in the original project list or budget when the $16.2 million referendum questions were approved by voters in August of 2018, the school district sought to have the city’s impact fees waived. Waiving the city fees will go a long way toward making these projects possible from a budgetary standpoint, Henning wrote.
The impact fees were broken down to include, sanitary-sewer connection, $6,216.90; park and recreation, $2,577.12; public works, $3,727.36; sanitary sewer, $6,026.56; and storm water, $1,696.24 for a total of $20,238.18.
Resident James Rhyner asked the council how the fees being waived by the city and not paid by the school, will be covered by the city. “I would like to hear where the money is coming from if not from the budget,” he said.
Clerk/Treasurer Mo Hansen said the city was asked in March to waive the fees.
Alderwoman Angie Stinnett reiterated the school purchased the safety lights, which will be turned over to the city, and is seeking to have the fees for the construction project waived. That cost the district $15,000, which was not planned.
In May, Rhyner sent a letter to council members after the topic was tabled. In the letter, he pointed out the line items in the construction projects for the school had not yet been set so it was difficult to believe that the school needs an additional $20,000. He wrote permit fees are always included in the project costs.
At the council meeting, Rhyner pointed out he would have to pay the permit fees in city taxes or school taxes and voiced displeasure that school district residents in the surrounding communities do not have to pay for the permit fee costs in their taxes.
In other business, the council:
— Approved the annual wastewater treatment plant compliance maintenance report.
— Authorized tax incremental financing district No. 3 expenses for wetland delineation and geotechnical analysis relating to reuse and redevelopment of 333 Portland Road. The city obtained a service agreement with SCS Engineers for $5,800 for geotechnical services and a service agreement with Heartland Ecological Group Inc. for wetland delineation services for $3,800. The services will be rendered on the city’s acquired 17-acre 333 Portland Road site.
— Approved class A and B beer, liquor and cider license applications for Karen Fredrick for The End Zone, Laurie Gorder for Coaches Alley, Peggy Hansen for The MT Bar, Korby Holzhueter for the Madison Street Pub, Van Stenberg for Blinky’s Bowl, Gary Jensen for the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6614 hall, Gregorio Ayala for Ayala’s Market, Judith Bunge for Kwik Trip, Daniel Loeder for Loeder BP Waterloo, Chris Engelhardt for Dollar General Store, Jeffrey Tate for Piggly Wiggly and Jeff Deegan for The Mode Venue. The licenses are from July 1 to June 30, 2020. It was noted the city has one license available as the Bridge Lounge did not renew its license.
— Approved cigarette license applications from July 1 to June 30, 2020.
• Approved the annual mobile home park licenses for Greeninghame Condominium LLC and Wil-Park, both at 300 Hendricks St.
— Confirmed the council appointments of Jeanette Petts and Jason Schoenwetter to the Community Development Authority; Eric Rhynes to the CATV Regulatory Board; James Sets to the Administrative Review Appeals Board and Board of Zoning Appeals.