WATERLOO — Town Council members are looking seriously at buying a property north of the fire station.
Tuesday night, the council approved obtaining a second appraisal of the property — a necessary step toward a purchase.
Council members discussed creating a combined police and fire station at the site.
The owner of a house at 325 Sheridan Street has approached Fire Chief Kirby Hobbs, expressing an interest in selling it.
Town Manager Tena Woenker obtained one appraisal of the property, which placed its value at $82,000.
A second appraisal is needed before the town could move forward with a purchase. The town cannot pay more than the average of two appraisals.
The town could afford to buy the property with its tax-increment financing money, Woenker said. The town’s Redevelopment Commission would have to approve using TIF funds, which come from taxes on improvements in designated zones.
Council members discussed whether TIF would be the right source of money for the purchase.
“I’m interested in seeing us have a public safety facility,” Councilman Jess Jessup said about combining the police and fire stations. The council recently has discussed the poor condition of the police station downtown.
“We need to think about what’s going to house them for the next 40-50 years,” Council President David Bolton said about the town marshal’s office and the fire department. He said the current police station might not last next 10 years.
Fire Chief Kirby Hobbs said the fire department needs the neighboring property just for parking.
Council members discussed adding to the fire station, possibly as a second story, to house the police department.
The council agreed to apply for a Walmart grant to pay for a new trap-neuter-release program to address the problem of feral cats. They also created a fund to receive any income for the program.
Discussion of a proposed cat ordinance revealed some differences of opinion.
Jessup said he is working on an ordinance that would include penalties for feeding and harboring stray cats.
Deputy Town Manager Pam Howard said neutered cats will be considered “community cats,” and feeding them should be allowed.
Jessup said feeding cats is attracting other nuisance animals. Howard replied residents would be encouraged to remove food at night and feed cats only at certain times of day.
“I have not bought into the idea of community cats. The cats belong to the people who feed them,” Jessup responded. “What we don’t want to do is provide a cat sanctuary city.”
Jessup later said people who want to feed stray cats should adopt them.
“I would say that feeding a community cat is not a good thing,” said Councilman Nathan Diehl. “If we stop feeding the cats, cats will go where there’s food.”
Opinions also differed about how to address a vacancy in the job of sexton to care for Waterloo’s cemetery. The sexton has resigned, and so has one of three cemetery board members.
“We have a cemetery board that doesn’t function and doesn’t want to function,” Jessup said. He proposed dissolving the cemetery board and giving the sexton’s duties to Howard.
Woenker said she was surprised by Jessup’s proposal and said Howard already has enough responsibilities.
A discussion ensued over whether Howard has time to oversee the cemetery. Jessup said those duties should be handled through the town office. No decision was reached.
Council members discussed the idea of a monthly “clean up” service in which a trash hauler would pick up large items at curbside.
Woenker said Butler now has that service from its trash hauler, and its residents pay only a little more than Waterloo residents.
“I’m surprised at how reasonable that is compared to what we pay,” she said.
Waterloo’s hauler, Republic Services, provides only one annual cleanup, in which residents must bring items to a central collection site, and town government pays an extra charge.
Woenker said a representative of Republic Services will attend the council’s September meeting to discuss options. She said one Waterloo resident has been ”very passionate” about a monthly cleanup, contending that people might keep their properties cleaner.
Council members expressed concerns that residents might set items at curbside far ahead of the collection dates, and that nonresidents might abuse the service by abandoning unwanted items along Waterloo streets.