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Charles City targeting ash trees for removal

Charles City targeting ash trees for removal
The emerald ash borer has been found in almost every Iowa county. Map courtesy Iowa Department of Natural Resources and Land Stewardship.
By Travis Fischer,

The Charles City Council talked tree removal and vehicle stipends during its workshop meeting on Wednesday, March 29.

In the upcoming regular meeting, the council will consider the approval of plans for the 2023 Tree Removal Project.

The project aims to remove approximately 325 trees, mostly ash trees that have become a safety issue. The city plans to borrow up to $250,000 for the project, with a completion date set for March 1 of 2024 for the tree removal and the landscape restoration to be completed by May 31.

Following that, a second round of tree removal is being planned for the 2025 fiscal year for as many more as the city can get done.

The city has surveyed roughly 900 trees on city property and right-of-ways that need to be addressed, making this a long-term endeavor for the city.

“It’s a big, big problem,” said council member DeLaine Freeseman, who was sitting in as mayor pro tem.

In other business, the council discussed City Administrator Steve Diers’ request to receive a stipend to use his personal vehicle, rather than utilizing a city vehicle.

Diers’ contract requires that the city provide a vehicle to use, which is currently a 2010 Nissan Murano. In lieu of using the aging vehicle, Diers is asking to instead use his personal vehicle and receive a stipend of $500 per month for the expense.

The council had questions about the proposal, with council member Phillip Knighten wondering if the city would still be obligated to provide a vehicle if his Diers’ vehicle broke down. Questions of insurance coverage also lingered.

Ryan Boehmer, listening in on the Zoom call of the meeting, noted that the total cost per year of the current city vehicle has been $4,025, raising the question of whether the stipend would save the city money.

At the same time, it was also noted that many cities in the area of comparable size to Charles City use vehicle allowances, with a wide range of stipend amounts, salaries and populations.

With more questions to be answered, the council will continue talking about it at the next meeting.

“I think we need to have a little more discussion on this,” said Freeseman.

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