All sixth graders to go to Cresco

Fifth graders to JH next year These fifth grade students will miss out on being the “Big Dogs” at Lime Springs-Chester Elementary next year as they will be the first sixth grade class to go to the Junior High in Cresco rather than finish off elementary locally. The Howard-Winneshiek School Board voted to move sixth graders from LS-C, Elma and Ridgeway to Cresco starting with the 2010-2011 school year. The Cresco Elementary students have been in the junior high building for three years already. Almost all these students are excited about moving up next year, but half are also apprehensive. Up until now, students had until sixth grade to think about going to junior high. These students get just six months to prepare for a big step in their lives. In front: Kaitlyn Finke, Madison Fitzgerald, Cortney Vreeman, Dustin Ruggeberg and Nichole Larson. Back: Dusty Ruggeberg, Devan Gates, Devan Forbs, Emily Roberts, Alisha DeWolf and Kaylin Miller. Not pictured: Jacob Hayes.

It is beginning. After several months of discussing where the Howard-Winneshiek School District can cut approximately $1.5 million from the general fund, the first major decision was made at the board meeting on February 18—all sixth graders will be attending school in Cresco at the Junior High.

More discussion on H-W budget

After voting to bus all the sixth graders in the district to Cresco, school board members of Howard-Winneshiek School District listened to comments from the audience and discussed more budget-saving options.

Plan will help get grants

A large group of Lime Springs residents showed up to a Hazard Mitigation Planning meeting on February 16.

When word got around bodies were needed, people showed up! Approximately 45 individuals attended a Hazard Mitigation planning meeting on February 16. Those attending were from the fire department, city council, Spring Ahead Preschool, Early Learning Center, Community Club and community members. Continue reading

Partners in Progress report

Partners in Progress of Chester met on February 16 for its regular meeting.
The Basket Auction, lunch and carnival is the next big activity being planned by the group. Last year’s fund-raiser was a big success, so the group will do it again this year.
It will be held Sunday, April 18 at the Community Center from 11:00-1:30. The same menu will be served—maid rites, potato salad, beans, bars and beverages. Cost will be $6.00 for adults, $4.00 12 and under and preschool free. Board members will be asking local businesses for items to be raffled.
The group decided to write an application to the Howard County Community Foundation Grant for electricity needs at City Park.
The group is still working on getting the group recognized as a non-profit organization. Pam Wendel will work on getting a gambling permit.
Planning for huge events is never done. It is a year-long adventure. Old Settlers is one of the first celebrations in the area, so PIP is already hard at work to get things organized.
Wendel and Dawn Fairbanks met with Tom Barnes and the Fair Board, Jim Holstrom and Spiff Slifka to discuss the barbecue event. Farm Bureau may also help with the barbeue. This is a new and exciting activity for a small town festival and the PIP group is hoping to attract a large group of barbecueing supporters.
Other Old Settlers events discussed included a Wood Bat Tournament with Jacob Cray; Tractor Pull and Pedal Pull are booked; Band-Wendel will book; church activities will be checked on; a fireman meal will be checked out; Fairbanks will look into Music in the Park.
Next meeting will be March 11 at Chester City Hall at 6:30.

Partners in Progress of Chester met on February 16 for its regular meeting.The Basket Auction, lunch and carnival is the next big activity being planned by the group. Last year’s fund-raiser was a big success, so the group will do it again this year.It will be held Sunday, April 18 at the Community Center from 11:00-1:30. The same menu will be served—maid rites, potato salad, beans, bars and beverages. Cost will be $6.00 for adults, $4.00 12 and under and preschool free. Board members will be asking local businesses for items to be raffled.The group decided to write an application to the Howard County Community Foundation Grant for electricity needs at City Park. The group is still working on getting the group recognized as a non-profit organization. Pam Wendel will work on getting a gambling permit.Planning for huge events is never done. It is a year-long adventure. Old Settlers is one of the first celebrations in the area, so PIP is already hard at work to get things organized.Wendel and Dawn Fairbanks met with Tom Barnes and the Fair Board, Jim Holstrom and Spiff Slifka to discuss the barbecue event. Farm Bureau may also help with the barbeue. This is a new and exciting activity for a small town festival and the PIP group is hoping to attract a large group of barbecueing supporters.Other Old Settlers events discussed included a Wood Bat Tournament with Jacob Cray; Tractor Pull and Pedal Pull are booked; Band-Wendel will book; church activities will be checked on; a fireman meal will be checked out; Fairbanks will look into Music in the Park.Next meeting will be March 11 at Chester City Hall at 6:30.

Council looks at budget —Taxes to raise approximately $3.50/$1,000

A special meeting of the Lime Springs City Council was called on February 9 so Council members could go over the budget (Fiscal Year July 1, 2010-June 30, 2011). The proposed budget will then be published and discussed at a public hearing at the next council meeting on March 2.
Michelle Girolamo, Cresco Deputy Clerk, has been helping Mary Schatz, Lime Springs Deputy Clerk, figure out the budget. In these hard economic times, it comes as no surprise taxes will need to be raised to keep the City budget in the black.
Girolamo said, “We’ve [City of Lime Springs] been running a negative budget for a few years and we can’t do that.” That does not mean the City’s checkbook was overdrawn, just that more money was being spent in certain funds than was budgeted.
In June 2009, the general fund was $60,000 in the negative and the proprietory fund (sewer and water) was also in the negative. “If more money is needed in these funds, the Council needs to approve a resolution to transfer money from one fund to another.” The resolution should be in place before the fund goes into the negative and, in the past, no resolution was approved.
The council was told the numbers on the budget and the annual financial reports need to match, which they did not for Fiscal 2010. Girolamo said, “Hacker-Nelson [the company doing the City audit] and I decided to do transfers in this year to make things balance for the upcoming year.”
Part of the income on the budget was the local option sales tax. It was explained how each city in Howard County gets a portion of the one percent local option sales tax. “It is prorated, in part, by population. We are pushing that everyone in Cresco gets counted by the upcoming census.” The bigger the population, the bigger the percentage going to the town.
Other than normal expenses the City retains several long-term loans. One is for the 2001 Sewer and Street Project. The project was $120,000 with payments of $13,000 per year. Robinson said there is still over $57,000 left to pay.
The City is also still paying for the Community Center. The original loan was for $275,000 in 2003 and this year’s payment is a little over $20,000.
Now for the ugly part. As Benjamin Franklin is quoted as saying, “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Well, to keep the Lime Springs 2011 budget in the black, property taxes have to be raised. The proposed cost per $1,000 in valuation will be $15.12, an increase of $3.49 over last year.
Some reasons for the increase include the general rise in all costs around the country and expected extra costs in connection with the audit currently taking place.
Robinson said an added expense will be sheriff department protection. The rate of $2.00 per capita is going to raise.
She stated, “In order to keep us out of the hole, we need to jump.” She then asked Girolamo, “So taxes should have been raised a little at a time before?”
Girolamo answered, “That’s what I would have suggested.”
So, although the jump is high,  the $15.12 rate is actually lower than in 2007 when residents were paying $15.93355 per $1,000 valuation.
Unfortunately, that $3.49 raise will sting even more since property values in the City of Lime Springs are $1 million higher than last year.
None of the Council was thrilled with the raise in property taxes. Council person Corey Gates summed it up by saying, “I hate to go too high because we’ll lose one of the benefits of living in a small town.” Some of those benefits include the pool, parks, library and Community Center.
• Unrelated to the budget, but relating to income, it was noted the City had not been filling out paperwork to get reimbursed for taxes paid on fuel for at least five years. Mayor Barb Robinson said, “We’ve had the certificate since 1995 and as far as we know, it’s never been used. We’ve never collected a refund on gas.” Girolamo explained paperwork can be filled out for the past three years to collect the tax.
The problem with getting the figures back three years is the dollar amount but not the  gallons were put on the charge slips at Tank & Tummy, the major vendor for City fuel. It will take some figuring to get cost of fuel for each time fuel was charged and figuring out the gallons. Schatz will pursue filing the paperwork for reimbursement.
Government entities and schools do not have to pay the fuel tax, which is automatically added to the price of gas. The state and federal tax for ethanol is approximately 37.4¢ per gallon  and 44.4-46.9¢ per gallon for diesel for 2010.
[The last City Council minutes show a bill of $104.34 paid for November fuel and $773.36 for December.]
• Girolamo also gave the council some insight on how the City of Cresco deals with other government entities, such as fire department and library. Changes may be in the forecast for those services.

Blue, Gold Banquet

Bobcats are Conner Roberts, Chase Newman and Braden Hayes.

Jason Dietz presents Ross Niewoehner and Stephen Dietz with their Bear Den awards and Pocket Knife Patch.

Cub Scout Pack #3121 of Lime Springs celebrated the 100th anniversary of Boy Scouts by having its annual Blue and Gold Banquet during Scout Week.

The young men were honored at a lunch and ceremony on February 6. The banquet started with the posting of the colors by the Scouts and then the Pledge of Allegiance. Unit Commissioner Jason Dietz welcomed the group and gave the invocation.
After a great dinner, Field Director of the Twin Rivers District Steph Becker spoke to the boys and their guests.

Pool Board makes plans

The pool doesn’t look very inviting right now— it’s full of snow—but wait another three-and-a-half months and it will be full kids!

The pool will be getting some minor and major repairs before its opening the end of May.

One of the biggest repairs has been ongoing since the pool was drained last year. Steve Timmerman, a native of Lime Springs, took it upon himself to save the City money by researching alternatives to taking out the cement in the low end. He found a sealant that can be painted on to make the bottom smoother.
He also worked many Saturdays and Sundays last fall to cut out weak parts and cracks and replace the cement. This spring, he plans to lay several layers of sealant in the low end before filling it with water.