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City Council focuses on budget, tennis courts, and property neglect

The Lennox City Council met Monday, August 28 in the Lennox boardroom. Agenda items for the meeting included Ordinance 641, tennis courts and property neglect.

City Administrator, Nate Vander Plaats shared that the City of Lennox must annually pass an ordinance appropriating funds for the following fiscal year.

“There have been minimal changes to this budget since the Finance Committee Meeting earlier this month. Changes include minor adjustments in intergovernmental revenue, additional funds for the Lennox Citizens Academy, finalized amount for middle baseball field fence project, added painting and structural assessment of bandshell and we moved museum roof to 2024,” he said.

Highlights of the meeting included no increase in water and sewer rates and a reduction of the regular levy to under $6/$1000 not including the pool levy. The Council agreed to approve the first reading of Ordinance 641.

The Lennox School District applied for a Special Event Permit for their annual homecoming parade.

“This event is scheduled for September 15 at 1:30 p.m. and is expected to last approximately one hour. The parade route is the same as in previous years and is included in the application materials. A certificate of insurance has been secured,” Vander Plaats said. Motion approved.

The Lennox School District is planning for two new tennis courts at the Lennox High School next year.

“Over the course of the last three years, we have often discussed the need for new tennis courts for the City and the School District. Multiple options have been mentioned, but no final solution has been reached,” Vander Plaats said.

The cost for the two courts would be just over $700,000. With the introduction of pickleball to this years recreation program, the City expects to see a higher demand for court time.

“It is not economical for both the school and the City to build separate facilities, and it is in the best interests of both to work cooperatively for a permanent solution for the condition of the current courts,” he said.

An alderman questioned Vander Plaats on if any grants could be applied to the courts and if there would be any lighting that would be installed for the public to use the courts after hours.

“If we made the improvements with the Land and Conservation funding and I think you can change the use of the funding, but it needs to stay open to the public,” he said.

Vander Plaats thought it would be best to further look into funding options to help out with the project. Council members agreed that they would like residents to still have access to the courts, so they need to look into helping fund the project as well as look into options on the existing tennis court to see if improvements can be made to allow for pickleball to still be held there.

The City of Lennox requires multiple permits from Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad to complete the Central Basin 4 Project.

“This agreement is identical to the previous agreement, which was executed for the water main crossing. The agreement in front of you for consideration tonight is for the sanitary sewer crossing. Given the time constraints we are working with, I would humbly suggest that the City Council proactively approve all such agreements with BNSF as they come to the City,” Vander Plaats said.

Motion passed unanimously.

The City of Lennox has consistently needed to mow and trim the property at 520 W 5th Avenue due to neglect of the property by the owner. Vander Plaats requested a motion to name the owner of the property a habitual violator and authorize the Code Official to secure a contract for mowing and trimming.

“Those notices were issued on May 22, 2022 and June 21, 2023. Naming this owner a habitual violator will allow the City to let a contract to mow the property as needed (up to weekly) for the next 24 months, with the costs assessed against the property,” Vander Plaats said.

The cost starts at $200 for the city to begin the process and further charges are added depending on the work performed.

Motion approved.

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