WC ‘not a dying town’ says Brown

A news story which included Webster City among a list of cities that are dying in Iowa was rebuked by a speaker at Monday’s meeting of the City Council of Webster City.

Deb Brown, executive director of the Webster City Area Chamber of Commerce, said KCCI did not exercise due diligence in their May 28 story. The report included the top ten cities in Iowa by the number of people added, the top ten by number lost, and the top ten by rate of growth. Webster City was number seven on the list of cities who have lost the most people. The story used U.S. Census data from 2010.

“Many things have changed in Webster City since then,” Brown said.

Among the changes since last year that Brown mentioned included the opening of three new restaurants, the opening of other businesses including Chalfant Plumbing and SOS Vintage, and the Webster Theater which is on-track for a September reopening. Those businesses and many others were empty in April of 2013 when a tour of vacant business locations was held, Brown said.

Other accomplishments Brown mentioned included the addition of 72 chamber members since last year and hosting large events locally such as JunqueFest which brought about 3,500 people.

She also added that several large businesses, from McMurray Hatchery to Seneca Foundry and Van Diest Supply, have stayed in Webster City.

“I personally know the City is working very hard to build our economy and continue to help us grow. We are not a dying town,” Brown said. “Don’t stick a fork in us, we’re not done.”

Also at the meeting, Tyler Abens announced that an open house will be held at the three new spec-homes on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. with refreshments served. The homes are located at 2404 Kamen Drive, 2403 Rodlyn Road and 2405 Rodlyn Road. Abens said the builder and a representative from Heritage Homes will be in attendance. Webster City Mayor Doug Getter said he looks forward to a good turnout.

“They are indeed, I think, very well built homes. I think anyone that would be a buyer would have a nice piece of property,” Getter said.

The council also approved a resolution adopting a group benefit plan for City employees beginning on July 1. City Manager Ed Sadler said, for the most part, there will be no changes to employees’ health insurance. One more contract, in addition to two existing contracts with parties that the City obtains health insurance from, will have to be signed. Sadler said that is because a portion of the contract for Holmes Murphy and Associates consulting services was separated out.

“There’s no change in price. There’s no change in our coverage or anything else. This has turned out absolutely exceptional for us,” Sadler said. “We are still getting insurance right now for less than other people bid three-years-ago for us. I don’t think we can expect any better.”

However, Getter said that a significant piece of the insurance premium cost will come from the first appearance of fees from the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. He said the new provision in national health care will cost the City $30,000 under the approved resolution

“That’s something we all need to be sensitive to, because City revenues are not overflowing and any kind of additional costs need to be dealt with,” Getter said. “We, as a City, had no input relative to the imposition of these fees.”

Another approved resolution authorized a two-percent salary increase for Sadler. Getter said the city is well managed under Sadler and that the increase is consistent with an increase provided to other City employees within the last fiscal year.

In other business, the board approved several appointments to City boards, commissions and committees. Those appointed include Brent Johnson to the Park and Recreation Advisory Commission for a four-year term, Kent Bailey to the Zoning Board of Adjustment for a five-year term, James Kumm and Leo Moriarty for four-year terms to the City Planning and Zoning Commission, Ron Birkestrand to the Airport Commission for a four-year term, Laurie Graham to a four-year term on the Wilson Brewer Historic Park Committee and four-year terms to Bob Burns and Shiloh Mork on the Traffic Study Committee.