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CEDAR FALLS — Efforts to develop a climate action plan may lead the city to hire a consultant and add a new planning position.

A working committee has been reviewing conservation efforts undertaken by the city to lay the groundwork for the plan’s formulation. The group, which has met six times, includes staff from the city and Cedar Falls Utilities. A community member and a representative of the Center for Energy and Environmental Education at the University of Northern Iowa are also members.

“One of the things we’re noticed, we have a lot of good initiatives going on,” City Administrator Ron Gaines said at a council work session this week. Among those are efforts to change over lighting to LEDs and reduce energy or emissions through engineering design in city facilities. The Cedar Falls City Council also recently approved a level two charging station downtown along Second Street, to be installed with the assistance of CFU, and exploration continues on getting another one in place, a DC fast charger.

However, Gaines said, the city isn’t good at tracking those initiatives. He suggested they need to begin determining a baseline when initiatives begin and set goals over a number of years. It’s one aspect of figuring out how the city should respond to concerns that human activity is contributing to changes in the climate that negatively impact the environment.

Gaines said the working group recommends forming an official climate action plan advisory committee and asking CFU to complete an energy audit of all municipal buildings. Other recommendations include hiring a consultant and adding the planning position.

Officials had looked at having the university’s CEEE lead the initiative and draft a plan for the city. “This may be a little bit too big of a project for them to take on alone,” said Gaines.

So the consultant would assist the city and CFU in determining goals and carrying them out. The cost of hiring the consultant, estimated at $70,000-$80,000 over a nine-month period, would be included in the capital improvements program request to the council for the next fiscal year. Gaines noted that the new staff person is also needed to coordinate tasks associated with the plan.

A draft capital improvements program has already been developed. Council members unanimously agreed to further talk about staffing needs related to the climate action plan at a Dec. 9 and 10 goal setting session.

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