In Marquette, talks of renegotiating police district 28E agreement

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By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times

One Marquette council member says the city should consider renegotiating the 28E agreement it has with the city of McGregor regarding the Mar-Mac Unified Police District. 

“I agree we need a police department,” said councilwoman Pam Brodie-Fitzgerald at Marquette’s Oct. 10 council meeting, “but we need to revisit who pays for what. What we pay is exponentially different per capita.” 

According to Brodie-Fitzgerald, Marquette currently contributes $316.92 per person, while McGregor pays $136.45 per person. 

“That’s a huge gap,” she remarked. 

Brodie-Fitzgerald said Marquette can’t afford to continue paying at that rate. Revenue from the casino is declining, she noted, and the city is no longer receiving special public safety funds from the casino. 

As of the 2017-2018 fiscal year, mayor Steve Weipert said the two cities now have a 50/50 split in funding the police department. Prior to that, Marquette had paid a higher percentage. 

“The 28E is a fluid document,” Brodie-Fitzgerald said. “I think we need to take a look at it. We should see if we can even it out a bit.” 

Councilman John Ries said it’s something the council can look at it more during the upcoming budget process. 

Weipert said it would also be good to let the new police chief, Robert Millin, settle into his new position before reopening any discussions. 

City moving forward with solar project 

The council approved moving forward with plans to solar power Marquette’s well number four. Eagle Point Solar was selected to complete the project at a cost of $76,041. 

According to Kent Kraus, solar energy consultant from Eagle Point who spoke at a previous meeting, the city currently uses 56,000 kilowatt hours over 12 months at the site, costing $7,495. By utilizing solar power, 83 percent of that consumption could be offset, resulting in just 9,472 kilowatt hours at $1,370 per year. 

For the project, solar panels would be placed on the ground, collecting sunlight near the well. During times of over-production, Kraus said the city could build up credits. Since the city will remain connected to the Alliant Energy grid, they could pull from those credits during the fall/winter and on cloudy days. 

Although beneficial, Brodie-Fitzgerald initially wondered if it would be best to complete the project in the next budget year. 

“It should be in our capital projects to begin with, not as an amendment,” she said. “If we’re going to stick $60,000 into something, it should be flood control. Right now, Twin Bluffs is going to be a mess. There are so many other things on our plate.” 

This time of year, and throughout the winter, it would also yield little solar energy, she continued. 

“The quicker you can start saving money, the better off you are,” mayor Weipert responded. 

City clerk Bonnie Basemann said the solar project will save the water department money and lessen sewer and water rate increases. There’s still money in the budget to complete it yet this year. 

“We have to amend the budget anyway,” she added. 

Councilwoman Eleanor Soulli questioned if the wet weather would interfere with completing the project this fall, but councilman Ryan Young said he didn’t believe it would pose a problem. He felt waiting until next spring, at possibly a busy time for the contractor, could delay the project even more. 

“Then you set yourself behind eight or nine months.” 

Young also didn’t foresee this project interfering with other city plans. 

“Realistically, doing something for flood control probably won’t happen this year,” he said. 

Ries worried how waiting until spring would affect the price quote for the project. 

“If we wait, it could be a totally different number,” he said. 

That point ultimately convinced the council, which unanimously approved moving forward with the project yet this fall. 

Decibel meter will track train noise 

Basemann said a decibel meter that will track train noise in Marquette is now up and running. It can be used at different points around the community, and a chart containing the gathered data can be printed off for analysis. 

She also brought up the idea of installing sound-absorbing materials under the bridge to reduce train noise. 

“That sound just bounces off everything,” she commented. 

Evacuation route training drill scheduled 

The city has scheduled a training drill for the newly-opened bench evacuation route on Wednesday, Oct. 24, at 4 p.m. Weipert said the drill will give bench residents an opportunity to drive the route, which is accessible from Walnut Street, and help them better understand what to do in case of emergency. 

The fire and police departments will help with the drill. Only one-way traffic from Marquette to McGregor will be allowed; residents will not be able to return to Marquette via the evacuation route. 

Fall clean-up Oct. 27 

The city has scheduled its fall clean-up for Saturday, Oct. 27, from 8 to 11 a.m., at the Roundhouse Park just off Highway 18. Marquette residents only will be allowed to bring excess refuse and place it inside the dumpsters. There will be no general curbside pick-up. 

Metal appliances will be accepted, including washers, dryers, stoves and refrigerators. Items that will not be accepted include leaves and grass, brush, batteries, tires, chemicals, oil, paint/liquids, hazardous waste, electronics (including TVs) and dead animals. 

Trick-or-treat hours set 

The city has set its Halloween trick-or-treating hours for Wednesday, Oct. 31, from 4 to 7 p.m. People are reminded to watch out for children during that time.

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