City will seek fire chief applicants

The search for a new fire chief for Webster City will begin soon as the City Council voted Monday night to begin the process without the help of a search firm.

Fire Chief Mike Lund has indicated his intention to retire in June. The city currently has four full-time fire department employees. City Manager Ed Sadler told the council that the city could either hire a firm to handle the search or the city could begin the process on its own.

Sadler said that three search firms were contacted and provided cost information. The proposals ranged from $13,237 to $27,000. The firms projected 75 to 120 days to complete the search, background checks and hiring process.

“To conduct this process on our own, we would be looking at an estimated cost of between $4,000 and $5,000 for advertising and background checks,” Sadler said.

Sadler said that should the city not find a suitable candidate on its own, and would then have to use a search firm, that would extend the time before a candidate could be hired and would be considerably more expensive.

“And with the small size of our department, being without one person results in spending significant amounts in overtime to fill shifts,” he said.

The council voted initially to use one of the search firms, but the measure was defeated with Councilmen Geary Meyer and John Hawkins voting in favor and Councilmen Matt McKinney, Logan Welch and Mayor Doug Getter voting nay. Instead, the council agreed to move ahead with an independent search, placing advertisements with various publications around the state.

“If we don’t have applicants within 30 days, then we still have these three proposals (from search firms),” Getter said.

Demolition to proceed

The council also voted to move ahead with the demolition of a home at 1116 Elm St. by awarding a contract to Habhab Construction of Webster City. The firm turned in the low bid of $9,250. Two bids for the project were received.

Sadler reminded the council that this demolition would be paid for with low to moderate income funding for income qualified projects. He said the project was evaluated by the staff and meets the criteria approved by the City Council.

Public hearings

During a series of public hearings held Monday night, the council voted to reject the only bid for the 2014-2015 street improvement project. Sadler said the bid came in about 20 percent over the estimate. He said that due to the lack of interested bidders, the small size of the project and the lack of competitive asphalt prices, he recommended postponing the project until next year when it could be combined with additional work to make the project more attractive to bidders.

In another proposed project, no bids were received for the 2014 Sanitary Sewer rehabilitation project. Matt Alcazar, project coordinator, explained to the council in a memo that the smaller size of the project likely kept bidders from responding. The council voted to create a more attractive bid package by waiting until after July 1 when additional funds would be available to increase the size of the project. The city would then rebid the project.

In other matters to come before the council, the plans and specifications and proposed form of contract and estimate of cost for the Willson Ave. Bridge project were approved. The contract was awarded to Jasper Construction Services Inc. of Newton. The firm turned in the low bid of $124,755. Sadler said that while that price is slightly over the budget amount, there were sufficient funds in the road use fund to complete the project.

Other business

In other business, the council:

approved the minor subdivision plat of Nelson’s Addition and Nelson’s Second Addition;

approved a request to submit a grant for application to the Governor’s Traffic Safety Bureau for a sTEP grant for the police department. Funds would be used for an in-vehicle camera.

approved the continuation of the city-wide urban revitalization plan for residential tax abatement. This would apply to infill lots only, as an inventive for new residential construction.