Keokuk City Council: No Alcohol, Maybe Pay Hikes

Keokuk, IA – Keokuk will not be changing its rules for alcohol in city parks, at least for the time being.

The Keokuk City Council voted 5-3, during its August 6 meeting, against an ordinance designed to ease the alcohol restrictions for certain special events. The vote came nearly two months after a request was made to allow residents to bring alcohol to performances at the new Rand Park Pavilion.

3rd Ward Alderman Ron Payne says the message he received from residents was clear. "They have told me that under no circumstances that they want alcohol in parks, especially Rand Park," says Payne.

The Keokuk City Council had tabled the issue so it could gather more information.

5th Ward Alderman Justin Tuck pushed for the vote by the council. "I believe we had enough time to hear from residents..." says Tuck, "and the majority of residents i talked to and people throughout the city were in favor of having some sort of alcohol in our city parks."

Tuck, 1st Ward Alderman Mike O'Connor, and At-large alderman Mark Hoyt voted to ease the alcohol restrictions. Payne, 2nd Ward Alderman Scott Nichols, 4th Ward Alderman Roger Bryant, 6th Ward Alderwoman Karole Smith, and At Large Alderman Doug Matlick voted against the proposal. 7th Ward Alderwoman Susan Dunek did not attend the meeting.

It was discussed that City Attorney Tom Marion and County Attorney Mike Short should be consulted to see if there is a way to even allow alcohol at the Rand Park Pavilion, given current state laws.

Pay Raises
One member of the Keokuk City Council says aldermen should receive a pay increase.

The panel holds at least four workshops and two business meetings in a given month plus sporadic sub-committee or special meetings. In return, the monthly pay for each member is $100.

At-large alderman Doug Matlick says the pay should go up. He says the timing is right, given the fact that seven of the nine seats on the Keokuk City Council are on the November ballot.

Matlick chairs the finance sub-committee. He says council members should get $100/month and $25/meeting.

Matlick says an incentive of up to $250/month could encourage people to serve, though he says most candidates run without knowing they get paid.

Aldermen in Burlington receive $500/month while in Fort Madison it's $250/month.

The council has asked city staff to research aldermen pay in other, similarly sized communities. If acted upon, a pay increase would likely take effect in January.

It would not impact Matlick or Fifth Ward Alderman Justin Tuck. They both announced, during the August 6 meeting, that they would not seek another term on the Keokuk City Council.

Building Collapse
The lengthy discussion about alcohol in city parks and lesser talks about sewers, pay raises, and concerts prevented talk of the recent collapse of 528 Main Street.

Even though it happened on July 31, there was no mention of the former Green Tambourine music store during the nearly two hour council meeting that took place just six days later.

The panel also failed to discuss the Board of Adjustment's decision to alter the Iowa National Guard's design plans for improvements to its armory.