It’s not every year a City Council brings in some key local Statehouse lawmakers to a City Council meeting to applaud what they have done for City Hall and the city.
The current City Council, though, did just that.
By the council’s count, it had a good run this year at the Iowa Legislature.
The city got special consideration to hold an expedited local-option sales tax referendum for flood-recovery, a vote that succeeded and will bring in $90 million or more into city coffers over five years.
The legislature also gave cities the ability to institute a franchise fee of up to 5 percent of gas and electric bills; gave cities recovering from natural disasters the ability to sell bonds for public buildings without asking voters first; steered $20 million in I-JOBS earmarks to flood-damaged city facilities; and on and on.
Whether in response to what the council considers legislative victories or not, the council on Wednesday evening is prepared to up its spending on lobbying in and around the Statehouse from the just-ending fiscal year’s $15,000 a year to $60,000 a year in the new fiscal year beginning today.
In recent years, the city has contracted with former state Democratic legislator Larry Murphy of L & L Murphy Consulting, Oelwein, to do the city’s lobbying in Des Moines.
In the new fiscal year, the council proposes to keep Murphy and also hire Gary Grant of Grant Consulting LLC of Cedar Rapids. Grant was district director for Republican Congressman Jim Leach from 1993 through 2007.
The total contract for the two firms is for $70,000, which includes an extra $10,000 for lobbying in Washington, D.C., if necessary, Casey Drew, the city’s finance director, noted on Tuesday.
Drew said the expanded contract will provide the city with more help in developing a Statehouse legislative strategy and will provide additional lobbying and increased communication with state elected officials and state agencies.