O'Brien County's Bell-Times-Courier -

Sutherland Council Rethinking Drainage Area


August 8, 2019

By Mari Radtke

Drainage near Violet Street flowing east toward M12 (N Hiview Street) has been a topic of discussion at the Sutherland City council meetings for several months. Bids for the installation of culverts has been let. One was accepted and looking at financing followed. The cost was approximately $30,000. TIF was the first financing method considered.

At the August 5 meeting the council was updated on the costs and limitations of using TIF as a financing method. It was decided that the costs involved in using TIF was not justifiable for a $30,000 project. Amanda Vanderhoff, City Clerk, informed the council that the standard time frame to do a TIF project is 16-18 months. The council decided to hold a budget workshop for infrastructure and establishing definite projects, schedules and payment methods.

Vanderhoff updated the council about unpaid utility bills. Many have been put into the off-set program in which unpaid amounts can be collected from Iowa Tax Returns. That program returns nothing when a debtor relocates out state. The aggregate value of unpaid utilities to the city of Sutherland is $40,000.

Discussion of nuisance violations followed. One homeowner now faces a citation of 12 violations. The city expects to take ownership of the property in time and can then raze the property for redevelopment.

Corey Zimmer, Public Works Director asked the council for a decision about resurfacing Main Street from 1st to 2nd Streets. He reminded the council that pea gravel and seal coat cost $9200. Its expected useful life was estimated at about 2-3 years. The cost to blacktop that same space was more than $22,000. Council asked about making a decision in September, but Zimmer expressed concern about weather conditions at that time and how adherence of the surface might be affected if the temperatures go too cool. Other small patching projects in town were already approved and will move forward. The Main Street project was included in the projects to consider and finalize in the budget workshop for coming years.

Zimmer asked what he was to tell residents when they asked if the town was going back to gravel/dirt roads. Councilman Steve Koch responded in very animated fashion that it is not the responsibility of employees to answer these kinds of questions and informed both Zimmer and Vanderhoff that they were to tell individuals with complaints or concerns of the city infrastructure to come to a council meeting. He added that complaints not brought before the council would not be considered as an official complaint.

The council approved the next meeting of the council as Tuesday September 3, immediately following Labor Day.


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