Waterloo Council discusses need for more involvement

The Waterloo City Council took some time during its Jan. 23 meeting to discuss how they might encourage more people to be involved as city councilors.

Councilor Kevin Faulk noted this topic has always “been an issue” in the city.

“People just seem to kind of want to be left alone out here,” he said.

The Council consists of six seats, plus the mayor. Currently there are four councilors serving; councilor Allen Shearer passed away after this meeting. With the possibility of two seats being empty, the City faces more pressure to weigh its remaining options.

“If you don’t have community involvement, you don’t have a working government,” Mayor Justin Cary said.

He also said this has “always been an issue,” particularly with finding someone who would serve as mayor, and in his experience there has always been at least one empty councilor seat.

When discussing the City newsletter, Cary asked if Council would be okay with him including a “note from the mayor” wherein he could try to elicit more participation.

“We really need to stir the pot as far as getting some folks to participate in this council,” he said. “Not just as part of the Council, but just in general coming to the Council meetings and be involved. I really feel like we’re at a point where if we don’t get involvement, we’re gonna have issues having a council.”

City Recorder Brandi Libra suggested going door to door to encourage more participation, but noted there are only “a handful” of residents who might respond. Council members mentioned they might know one or two people they could ask to get involved.

“If we don’t get fresh blood or some interest, I don’t know what we’re gonna do,” Cary said.

Cary said he has made the decision this will be his last year as mayor, hoping someone else will step up to participate in the process of serving as mayor or councilor. He has so far served as mayor for five years. If the City does not have enough councilors and/or a mayor to serve, they will have to consider unincorporating the city. Cary also said there is a problem finding enough qualified citizens to serve on the budget committee. If there’s not enough residents participating, the City cannot legally pass the budget, he said.

“I think this year we’ll kind of have to see if the community is going to respond or not,” Cary said.

In other business:

⯁ Cary reported the City received one bid for an archaeology project that must be performed before the City can use grant funds toward a building project at City Hall; he is waiting on a response from the tribal community. Funds distributed to Waterloo through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) (with 75% matching USDA funds) were earmarked to be used to install a bathroom and HVAC at City Hall, and potentially the addition of a community room. Tribes requested an archaeological survey first be completed to ensure no indigenous artifacts are disturbed.

⯁ Faulk recommended the City decline the idea of drawing up an ordinance allowing use of UTVs (with restrictions) in the city. He explained his concern that more UTVs would be used and the City does not have the resources to enforce the law.

⯁ Street Master Adam Beskow reported he re-erected the street sign at 6th and Card streets, and staff began cleaning street signs that had been tagged. He said police reports have been filed for the tagging, and video footage has also been captured. Beskow asked Libra about a pothole on 3rd Street, to which she responded she’s finding it difficult to find someone who would fix it.

⯁ Cary reported that budget season is here and the City needs to find residents who would participate on the budget committee. He also reported election deadlines are approaching for anyone interested in running for a council seat.

⯁ Libra reported she has been having problems with the the City’s computer and printer, mostly due to a virus. Most functions are beginning to work properly since the computer has been cleaned of the virus, but Libra is still working out some bugs.