President Mark called the meeting to order at 7:08 am

Dave Parsons  led us in our usual songs.

Since Mark could find no funny stories about City managers, he began with a question: what is the beginning of high holy week in the Jewish religion?  Rosh Hashanah —New year; the period ends with Yom Kippur— the day of atonement.  He then followed with a very lame joke:

What is Old Testament passage about laxatives?  Moses took two tablets and went down the hill.  Moans ensued.

Sergeant-at-Arms Report:

            Guests & Visiting Rotarians:  Deb Ockenfels introduced Carolyn Wanat; Rebecca Schultz introduced her husband, John, stating she hoped this was the last time; Sally Scott, president of the Iowa Valley Habitat board was the guest of President Mark; Jim Peterson introduced Amanda McFadden;Rick Dobyns introduced Simon Andrew, assistant to City Manager Markus; and Pat Barron, Rotary Club of West Chester, PA.

            Makeups:  Jim Peterson; Deb Galbraith; Myrene Hoover; Phil Peterson; Deb Ockenfels; Karin Franklin; Nancy Pacha; Ron Logsden; and Deb Dunkhase.

Rotarians in the News:

There were none reported.

Where in the World is Curacao?

Sue Cronin reported on Curacao which is in the southern part of the Caribbean.  It’s climate is dry and windy with an average temperature of 82 degrees.  It is typically out of the hurricane zone and has beautiful beaches.  Curacao was settled initially by the Arawaks and then the Spanish and the Dutch. It was a center of slave trade.  Willemstad is the capital and a UNESCO world heritage site.  Languages spoken are Dutch, English, and Papiamentu.  The government is a parliamentary representative democracy,  One of its best known exports is the liqueur, that carries its name.  There is one Rotary club with 100 members, and 2 Rotaract clubs.  One feature Sue noticed was the lack of respect for local blacks, and any tourists who are not Dutch.


  • Scribes, dishwashers, and greeters are needed for the month of October; sign up sheets are at the front table
  • District Grant Writing workshop is Oct. 15 from 6pm-9pm in West Liberty
  • Month opener is Oct. 6 at 5:15pm at Donnelly’s
  • Joint Service Club luncheon is Oct. 9th at the University Club; tickets are $15
  • A Fireside Chat will be held at Jean Bartley’s home Oct. 23 from 6pm-8pm; all new members are strongly encouraged to attend.  Pizza and libations will be served.
  • MOST applications are still being taken
  • Brian announced we are into week 3 of nut sales; for businesses, it is a tax deduction.  He sold a number of boxes through his hair “salon”. 
  • Myrene announced an event at UIHC on 10/24 in the hospital museum.  It is International Polio Eradication Day; the event begins at 5:30pm
  • Hospice will have an open house on 10/9 at their Wade St office (Note: Mike told us Maggie Elliot, the executive director of Hospice for many years, is retiring)

Happy Bucks:

Valerie Martin; Pat Schnack; Margy Winkler; Carl Christensen (Happy 84th Birthday!); John Ockenfels; Dick Huber: Mike Messier: Casey Cook (condolences on the death of Kate’s mom):  Peggy Doerge;  Nancy Pacha;  Jack Cameron:  Deb Pullin-VanAuken:  Phil Peterson:  Sandy Kray:  Deb Ockenfels;  and Mark Patton, all shared moments and reflections.


In the last installment of the state of local government, Rick Dobyns introduced Tom Markus, City Manager of the City of Iowa City, giving an overview of his career.

Tom presented DG John Ockenfels with a bottle of scotch bottled in South Africa by Rotarians to be used as a fundraiser.  The bottle was acquired by Deb Markus, Tom’s wife, when she traveled on a Rotary Friendship Exchange.  Tom suggested the bottle be placed on the District Conference auction to raise money for a Rotary project.

Tom then presented Iowa City’s focus of “Bulding a Resilient Community”.  He identified three areas of challenge:  Environment; Financial; and the Economy.  He noted the Council is doing strategic planning every 2 years.

Environment:  3 largest floods in last 6 years

Financial:  state tax reform & shrinking fed revenue

Economy:  change in global economy.  Workforce challenge:  filling high tech jobs.  Cited shovel ready ind park and fact that only got nibbles.  Hard to find businesses to develop  May need to build businesses in city rather than hunt for new.

In the arena of the Environment, the city  has been challenged by the three largest floods in its history in the last 6 years.  $135 million has been spent in flood mitigation since 2008.  The City bought 100 flood prone properties.  An ordinance to control development in the 500-year floodplain has been adopted.  The north sewer plant has been decommissioned and will be converted to a park, acting as the foundation for the Iowa River Crossing project.

He then referenced other projects including the Animal Shelter, the pump station on Rocky Shore Drive and the Dubuque Street Gateway project, among others.

In the arena of Financial resiliency, challenges have included the decrease in gas tax due to altered driving habits and its impact on road repair funds, the decrease in federal funding for large projects, and a 36% reduction in state and federal support for social services.

On top of this state tax reform will impact Iowa City with a decrease in tax revenue projected to be between $37-51million.  The City does not expect this to be back-filled by the State. 

Tom reminded us that in November. the local option sales tax would be on the ballot and he would supply some facts.  This is a county-wide ballot issue.  The five contiguous cities around Iowa City must vote as a block.  Taxes generated go into one pool, which is then reallocated by the State based 75% on population and 25% on where the taxes are collected.  Tom is a strong advocate for maintaining the Iowa system reflected in this reallocation formula since people pay the taxes, the business doesn’t.

Iowa City has chosen to allocate any revenue generated by the tax as follows:

50% to street and trail improvements;

40% to tax relief, which includes backfilling the loss noted above, potential lowering of property    taxes or deferring future increases; and

10%  to affordable housing.

Tom noted this would be the first time there would be a stream of local money to address affordable housing.  He believes there is a need to disperse lower income housing so it fits into neighborhoods throughout the city.

Tom then reviewed new projects on the horizon such as the Chauncey, a new stage on the pedestrian mall, and the UI Music Building.

Q & A

It was suggested that with a looming $50M deficit, the City start a happy bucks program.

How have planning policies changed?  Customer service and economic development are emphasized.  There is a different attitude now of “How do we make it happen?”  The City is also considering changing ordinances which no longer seem reasonable.

How will the relationship between UI and the City be going forward?  Tom felt the relationship was good but the City needs to stand up to the University and present its case so that the City is treated equitably; he referenced the agreements between the University and the cities in which it has facilities and the relative payments in lieu of taxes.

Adjourned at 8:10am

Minutes submitted by Karin Franklin