WATERLOO — The Waterloo Town Council Tuesday voted to table a proposed cat ordinance to allow time to see if its new trap-neuter-release program helps address the problem of feral cats.
Councilman Jess Jessup had been working on an ordinance that included penalties for feeding and harboring stray cats. Jessup said he did not agree with the philosophy of feeding “community cats.”
“If you feed the cat, it’s yours,” Jessup said.
The proposed ordinance also gave the Waterloo Marshal’s Department authority to kill cats deemed to be a threat. It also would establish a 72-hour holding period for stray cats that might be brought to the marshal’s department.
Marshal Jay Oberholtzer expressed reservations about those provisions, saying he would not want his officers shooting at cats in town.
“I’m not comfortable shooting bullets (at cats) in town,” Oberholtzer said “I’m not comfortable doing it.”
Councilman Nathan Diehl said he believes the problem of feral cats is improving since people have been encouraged not to feed them at night.
“I think it’s getting better,” Diehl said. “I’m grateful that people aren’t feeding at night.”
Town Manager Tena Woenker said volunteers have been meeting with Deputy Town Manager Pam Howard to get the trap-neuter-release program up and running.
“They are making headway in terms of organizing themselves,” Woenker said.
Councilman Ken Surber said he would like to give the trap-neuter-release program time to see if it works.
Diehl noted there are volunteers in the community who want to help make the program succeed.
“I’d love to empower people in town that care to try to make a difference,” Diehl added. He noted that if the program does not work and the cat problem gets worse, the council can bring back the proposed ordinance for further consideration.
Diehl, Surber and Council President David Bolton voted to table the ordinance, with Jessup opposed. Councilman Bill Hubartt was absent.
Also Tuesday, the council voted to accept bids for trash and recycling collection after hearing that its current trash and recycling services provider Republic Services would increase its monthly recycling charge from $1.36 per home to $4.16.
James Smith of Republic Services attended Tuesday’s meeting and reviewed the state of the recycling market.
“Recycling is broken,” Smith told the council.
In a letter to the council, Smith said the current economic model for recycling is unsustainable.
“There has been a shift in end-market demands for recycling material, limited public awareness about what and how to recycle and a misconception about real recycling costs,” Smith said.
Jessup said he would not vote in favor of a price increase.
The town will accept bids for trash and recycling services in time for its October meeting. Smith said Republic will re-bid the contract. Republic will continue to provide trash collection services until a new contract is awarded.
Woenker reported the town has received a second appraisal for a house at 325 Sheridan St. north of the fire station. The appraisal places the value of the property at $85,000.
The council is considering purchasing the property and has discussed creating a combined police and fire station at the site.
The town cannot pay more than the average of two appraisals. A first appraisal placed the property’s value at $82,000.
Woenker said a feasibility meeting is scheduled with the town marshal and fire chief for next week. The council agreed to schedule a special meeting for Sept. 24 at 5:30 p.m. to consider the property purchase.
The council approved spending up to $5,000 from the town’s riverboat casino fund to pay for the use of tents, heaters and tables during its Holiday Train Party.
In her report to the council, Woenker said Waterloo will join with the communities of Auburn, Garrett, Butler and Ashley to celebrate Downtown Development Week Oct. 6-11. Waterloo will highlight its Farmers Market on Oct. 11 with the addition of artists, crafters and food vendors and a live band. The market will run from 3-7 p.m. and the band will play from 4-7 p.m.