Nichols City Council discusses sewer funding

The Nichols City Council discussed several budget related items in November. (file photo)

NICHOLS, Iowa–The City of Nichols continued to move forward with their sewer update project. At their October meeting, the Council heard from Jason McKenzie of V&K Engineering, who shared the preliminary engineering report, presenting plans for upgrading the city’s manholes, lift station, and lagoons. Nov. 13, McKenzie returned to discuss financing opportunities for the project.

After taking into consideration the requests the council made at the last meeting and the final cost of labor and material, V&K now believes the full sewer replacement project will cost $2.65 million. V&K has begun the work of identifying grants and loans the project will qualify for. At this time, McKenzie thinks Nichols will likely qualify for up to $330,000 in United States Department of Agriculture grant money as well as additional low interest loans and up to $300,000 in Community Development Block Grants from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The council seemed satisfied with these figures and interested in continuing with the project.

Along with discussing the future of the sewer update project, the council also looked at assisting the Nichols Volunteer Fire Department with the purchase of new bunker gear. Earlier in the year, the department applied and received approval for funding from the Ryan Trust. Recently they learned they qualified for $30,000 in funding to put towards their $51,000 project. In light of the shortfall, the council, the fire advisory board, and the fire district trustees plan to discuss ways to make it up. Treasurer Aeneas Schmitz said he thought the three groups together would have the funds to cover the rest of the cost as the department does truly need new gear.

The Nichols Volunteer Fire Department would also like to thank everyone who attended their recent drive through pancake breakfast. All funds raised will go to helping the fire department purchase the bunker gear and cover other necessary expenses.

As the annual budget meeting approaches, the council also plans to consider increasing pay for police officers helping with speed checks. Recently, the city has received several complaints about people driving through town too quickly. Police Chief Jeff Jirak discussed possible options for dealing with speeders, which include fixed or mobile speed signs or on site officers. Jirak considered having officers there in person the most effective strategy, as in his experience, people start to ignore electronic speed signs very quickly. However, he did bring up that people make less when they patrol in Nichols than in some other nearby cities. He encouraged the city to consider raising their rates to make it easier for them to help find officers willing to come out. The council seemed receptive to this idea.