Keokuk to Help Port Authority
The Keokuk City Council will help fund the Southeast Iowa Regional Economic and Port Authority (SIREPA).
Keokuk, Fort Madison and Lee County are the original members of the authority, which is Iowa’s first and only port authority.
The Lee County Economic Development Group has been providing operational and administrative services for SIREPA, but the organization now wants to hire the Southeast Iowa Regional Planning Commission.
The authority does not have a regular income stream at this point, so it needs help to pay for such services.
That led SIREPA Vice Chairman Jim Hankes to approach the Keokuk City Council with a request for a contribution of $2,000/year for the foreseeable future.
He says this would be temporary as the authority starts to bring in revenue as it acquires property and attracts businesses.
The Keokuk City Council reached a consensus to give the authority the $2,000, possibly for each of the next five years with an official vote expected in the near future.
Similar requests will be made of the Fort Madison City Council and the Lee County Board of Supervisors.
SIREPA says it is making progress with a couple of its primary goals.
Hankes told the Keokuk City Council that the authority has narrowed its search for a site for a rural industrial park to two locations. He says SIREPA will reach out to the owners in the near future to discuss possible acquisition.
Hankes did not reveal the locations or provide a timeline during the discussion.
He says the authority is also working to secure Lee County’s inclusion in a foreign trade zone through one of two airports in east-central Iowa.
Some Keokuk employees are finally working under a contract with the city council ratifying new one-year employment agreements with the unions representing police officers and wastewater treatment plant employees.
Mayor Tom Marion says the two unions had already approved the new contracts, which are retroactive to July 1, 2012.
He says these employees will start out with a 1.4% wage increase before receiving a raise of 0.25% on January 1, 2013.
Marion says Keokuk still does not have a contract with the general unit, which includes the parks and streets departments.
He says arbitration is scheduled for August 23, with the final offers being exchanged. He says negotiations will continue until then on wages, which appear to be the lone sticking point.
The estimated cost for arbitration is about $8,000.