Franchise open house

Sheldon city councilman Brad Hindt and city manager Sam Kooiker talk to residents about the potential franchise agreement with MidAmerican Energy Co. during an open house on Wednesday, April 3.

SHELDON—The Sheldon City Council will continue to hammer out the language for two ordinances, which ultimately would let voters decide on a potential franchise agreement and fee structure in the city.

The council meets at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 5, in the Sheldon Community Services Center.

The city and MidAmerican Energy Co. have been in talks for months on a franchise agreement for natural gas and electric services in Sheldon. Such an agreement would allow the city to enact a franchise fee through the utility.

Franchise fees serve as a revenue source for cities through an agreement reached with a community’s utility provider in which the company attaches an additional line item on a customer’s bill.

When the council met on May 1, mayor Greg Geels proposed letting the voters decide whether or not Sheldon should enter into a franchise agreement with MidAmerican during the Nov. 5 election.

He noted this would eliminate the risk of another special election being forced. Sheldon’s May 21 special election, which saw Geels’ successfully retain his seat and Wayne Barahona win an at-large council seat, cost $2,624.97.

A timeline established by city manager Sam Kooiker to get the franchise agreement/fee on the fall ballot calls for the first public hearing and reading on June 19; the second hearing and reading on July 20, and the third one would have to occur no later than Sept. 4.

The council also could decide to waive the third reading.

In a somewhat related subject, Kooiker’s report also provides an update on MidAmerican’s efforts to help the city be rid of the former Thermo Cel Inc. building at 300 Iselin Ave., which is adjacent to one of the utility’s local facilities.

Kooiker noted MidAmerican still is in talks to purchase the property and demolish the existing structure — the council previously labeled it the most dangerous structure in Sheldon — and in return, MidAmerican would keep the land.

MidAmerican franchise manager Mark Reinders does not want this be viewed as a favor-for-favor situation since a different division of the company is handling the property acquisition, according to Kooiker’s report.

The council’s efforts to rid the city of the Thermo Cel building and two other dilapidated structures ramped up in September.

Back then, city attorney Micah Schreurs alluded to a “corporate friend of the community” — later revealed to be MidAmerican — that was willing to help demolish the structure.

In other business, the council will:

  • Consider requests for three student firefighters — Jasmine Holtrop, Maison Oostra and Michael Paulsen — to join Sheldon Fire Co.
  • Consider a request for Travis Buyers to join the Sheldon Emergency Management Agency.
  • Consider a fireworks permit request from Rise Ministries of Sheldon for RiseFest 2019.
  • Consider an agreement with Utility Services Partners to offer service line warranties to residential property. Under this agreement, the company would offer the services and handle all marketing and promoting, but it would be allowed to use the city’s logo in its billing and promotional materials.
  • Hear an update on the H.C. Lane building.
  • Hold a public hearing on the Crossroads North business park and award an infrastructure bid.
  • Hold the second reading of ordinance setting water rates and how the city delivers utility bill notifications.
  • Hold the second reading of an ordinance that would lower speed limits on parts of Highway 18 (Park Street).
  • Hear multiple reports on full-time employees’ benefit renewals.