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MASON CITY | The City Council approved a contract Tuesday night for a part-time worker for the Blue Zones project, a position the council agreed to fill at its meeting two weeks ago.

Marie Boyd will be paid $20 an hour, not to exceed 1,040 hours annually, from primarily private donations that are financing the entire Blue Zones project.

The hiring of Boyd — and the specific limit on the hours she is to work — come on the heels of a council meeting two weeks ago that included a spirited discussion over the hours and pay of Angela Determan, Blue Zones project manager, who is also paid from the special fund set up for Blue Zones.

At that meeting, the council approved payment of $21,803 for additional work performed by Determan beyond the $53,153 that was budgeted for her pay. She was hired on a 13-month contract as an independent contractor a little more than a year ago.

She is paid based on work records she submits to City Administrator Brent Trout for his approval. Though there is no city money involved, council members felt she should not have been allowed to work so many hours beyond the contracted amount.

After much debate, the vote to pay the full $21,803 was approved by a 4-2 vote with Travis Hickey and Janet Solberg voting against.

In the discussion on Boyd, Hickey said he was satisfied with the deal as long as the city stuck to the contract terms on hours worked. Her hiring was approved by unanimous vote.

Boyd most recently worked in Grafton, Massachusetts, and in Leominster, Massachusetts, for AmeriCorps Vista, coordinating events, writing grants and organizing volunteers for community projects.

In other business, the council authorized the staff to develop North Federal Avenue revitalization programs that offer incentives for property owners to fix up their homes and businesses. The proposed plan involves up to $20,000 in financial assistance with a seven-year commitment from property owners so they can't fix up their places and "flip them in a couple of years," said Councilman John Lee, meaning they can't use city incentives to fix them and sell them right away.

"A lot of it has to do with owners taking pride in ownership," said Hickey. "That's what I'd like to see."

Councilwoman Jean Marinos said she supports the proposals for the North End but would like to see some focus on the south side of the city as well.

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