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WEST LIBERTY, Iowa — A wayward squirrel that caused thousands of dollars of damage to a West Liberty electrical substation a year ago will likely cost the city an additional $5,000.

The city council Tuesday night unanimously approved hiring an independent consultant to investigate and determine an outside opinion concerning the denial of an insurance claim.

Travis Cutler, the city's insurance agent, told the council EMC Insurance has refused to pay for damage to the substation, estimated at $400,000. But he said the city could likely recover the estimated $100,000 spent to fuel the diesel powered generator while the substation was off line. Cutler said the cost of hiring an independent consultant to research the matter would be approximately $5,000.

City Manager Lawrence McNaul reported the securing of an outside opinion is endorsed by the city attorney. The motion to hire the outside consultant came from Councilwoman Melody Russell.

"If our attorney is recommending this would be a wise course to follow, I think this is the thing to do," she said.

Loan status

West Liberty is a step closer to receiving a low-interest loan to help fund improvements to the municipal water plant. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources has approved an environmental study necessary to obtain a loan from the State Revolving Loan Fund and established a 30-day-period for the public to discuss any concerns, McNaul reported.

"This is where we want to be," McNaul told the council. "This is just that much closer to receiving that SRF loan."

Festival approved

Another party is set for the streets of downtown West Liberty. The council unanimously approved a request from Noel Avalos, who spoke on behalf of La Comunidad de Latinos Unidos (The Community of United Latinos), to hold the group's first Festiva Latina on designated city streets Saturday, Sept. 12. Avalos said the festival will celebrate the independence of Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras, and other Latino nations and is expected to be bigger than the Aug. 30 Fall Latino Festival sponsored by St. Joseph's Church.

"We're not opposed to what the church is doing, but the idea is to bring people together," he said.

In other business:

  • The council approved payment of claims totaling $104,012;
  • The council approved the first reading of an ordinance amendment to lower the speed limit from 45 to 40 mph along the portion of Highway 6 from 150 feet west of Elm Street to 150 feet east of Elm Street;
  • The council approved the first reading of an ordinance amendment to establish a school crossing at the intersection of Third and Clark streets;
  • The council set a work session for 6:30 p.m. Sept. 15 to review the 2014 budget and to further discuss water and sewer rates.
  • McNaul reported the public library resumed its full hours on Aug. 31 after having been closed because of malfunctioning boilers. He said one boiler is fully functional and the other should be soon.
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