Council approves downtown lighting bid

The Fairfield City Council accepted a bid Monday from Alliant Energy to replace 55 light poles in the downtown.

Alliant bid $608,000 for the project. City Administrator Aaron Kooiker said the city plans to pay for the lighting with the $155,000 it receives annually in backfill from the state government. Backfill is money the state sends local governments to compensate them for not taxing property owners on the full value of their property.

Kooiker said that, if the Iowa Legislature eliminates backfill for whatever reason, the city’s backup plan is to pay for the lights with local option sales tax.

Councilor Paul Gandy said he’s gotten questions from his constituents about the cost of this project and what it entails. Mayor Ed Malloy explained that the bases of the existing light poles are rusting, which might create a safety hazard.

When the council approved the plan to replace the light poles in January, it decided that 22-23 of the poles will be replaced to look like the dark-colored decorative poles, while the rest will be the standard silver color. The lightbulbs will all be light emitting diodes (LED), which Kooiker said will be brighter and save the city money.

The council voted 6-0 to award the bid to Alliant Energy. Voting in favor were councilors Tom Twohill, Tom Thompson, Martha Rasmussen, Gandy, Michael Halley and Doug Flournoy. Councilor Katy Anderson was absent.

Airport improvements

In other news, the council approved a bid to improve portions of the Fairfield Municipal Airport, with one condition. Only one company bid on the project – Drish Construction of Fairfield – and its bid of about $674,000 was $170,000 over the engineer’s estimate.

City Engineer Melanie Carlson recommended reducing the scope of the project so the city did not go so far over budget. The council voted 6-0 to approve Drish Construction’s bid provided the project was reduced in scope. The project must now be approved by the Federal Aviation Administration and Department of Transportation.

This project was initially two separate ones: to pave the taxiways with concrete by the T-hangars and repair the cracks in the runway; and also to work on the entryways off the taxiway and into the hangars. However, the city did not receive any bids for either project when it put them out for bids last month. In response, the city felt it would be more attractive to potential bidders if the two projects were combined into one.

Police pay

The council approved a pay scale and step increase schedule for officers in the police department. Kooiker said the pay scale is designed to encourage officers to stay in the department by rewarding them for longevity. He said that, after an officer has been with the department for five years, their pay is comparable to or better than surrounding police departments such as Washington and Mt. Pleasant.

The pay schedule is:

Officer’s first year: $21.62 per hour

Completion of first year: $22.08 per hour

Second year: $23.18 per hour

Third year: $23.96 per hour

Fourth year: $24.74 per hour

Fifth year: $25.53 per hour