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Iowa city with shrinking population may unincorporate

November 26, 2018

PIONEER, Iowa (AP) — A tiny city in northern Iowa is edging toward unincorporating as its population dwindles, but first it must figure out how to spend its healthy reserve fund.

Pioneer City Clerk Janet Berte recently met with the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors to discuss the formal process of unincorporating, The Messenger reported.

The city only has three occupied homes and one co-op. The last census found that the city had a population of 23, Berte said. The city soon won’t be able to meet the official requirements of being a city as its citizens age, officials said.

“You have to have a mayor, a city clerk, at least three council members,” Berte said. “We have a monthly meeting. ... You have to do that to pay your bills in a timely fashion.”

One obstacle to unincorporating is the city’s good financials, Berte said. Most cities unincorporated when they run out of money, but Pioneer has about $150,000, she said.

“And they have been trying, and have done a very good job of getting rid of it — donating it to fire departments, ambulances, Upper Des Moines —they gave them $15,000 this year,” she said.

Pioneer has considered unincorporating before, but the move didn’t pass, Berte said.

“The city wasn’t ready to unincorporate yet. It wasn’t sound yet,” she said. “So now my goal is to get them on the right page, so when they do unincorporate they’ll be prepared for it and they’ll feel good about it.”

The City Council doesn’t have a set timeline for unincorporating, Berte said.

“When I talked to them last about this — maybe 2020,” she said. “Maybe not. It all depends on how things are going.”

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Information from: The Messenger, http://www.messengernews.net

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