Waukon City Council approves water rate increase of three percent and the offering of City Clerk and Water Superintendent positions

by Joe Moses

The Waukon City Council met in regular session Monday, July 2 to address a full agenda of items, including the crosswalk on Spring Avenue, City Clerk and Water and Sewer Superintendent positions and the Veterans Memorial Hospital Ambulance Garage air conditioning system. Mayor Pat Stone called the meeting to order with approval of the current agenda and June 18 regular session meeting minutes.

The Public Hearing for the 209 West Street Rezoning from “B-2” to “R-3” was opened. City Clerk Allen Lyon indicated that no written or verbal comments have been received and the hearing was closed.

During Public Comment, Coordinator Ardie Kuhse with Waukon Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) discussed Senator Charles Grassley’s upcoming visit to Waukon Tuesday, July 3. That visit was scheduled to include a tour of WW Homestead Dairy and time for questions from the public.

Under Departmental Reports, Street Superintendent Keith Burrett discussed a bid received for a storm sewer repair and dredging. Burrett and City Manager Dean Hilgerson indicated that weekend on-call responsibilities for the Street Department would be discussed at a future meeting. Burrett discussed the need for repairs to the parking lot behind Howards Home Furnishings and that the pre-cast intake box for the Spring Avenue storm sewer has been ordered. Senior Project Manager Lyle TeKippe with Fehr-Graham Engineering mentioned the Green Valley Bridge project, which is progressing well with a likely mid- to late August completion date.

Police Chief Phil Young indicated that it was a busy weekend and that over 200 people were without power for over 10 hours due to powerline damage from Saturday’s storm. Stone said that the city council would like to recognize Water and Sewer Superintendent Bob Campbell’s years of service to Waukon dating back to 1983.

Hilgerson indicated that the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) has been filed and that this competitive grant may qualify Waukon for over $600,000 in funding toward the new wastewater treatment facility. Hilgerson provided an update on the State Revolving Fund (SRF) loan process and that a decision regarding street lighting is getting closer to being made.

Executive Director Trisha Wilkins with Northeast Iowa Community Action Corporation (NEICAC) provided an overview of the organization’s services to a seven-county area, which includes Allamakee County. Wilkins discussed NEICAC’s programs involving early childhood education, family services, regional transit and energy assistance. Wilkins requested a signature on a letter of support from the City of Waukon to aid in qualifying for grant and other funding opportunities, not requiring a financial commitment from Waukon. The council approved the signing of the letter of support.

Jay Erb, owner of Erbal Ink Tattoos at 32 Spring Avenue, discussed that the crosswalk near his business had not been repainted and that additional crosswalks are needed for public safety. The council discussed the 2019 Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) street project and planning, which currently does not include the crosswalk being included due to an inability to meet Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards. Hilgerson said that with the 14% grade involved with this crosswalk that an ADA exception may be a possibility and that the city council will meet with the DOT to discuss the matter.

The council approved the Plat Survey for Leo and Joann Folsom at 423 Ninth Street SW. The first reading of the Ordinance changing zoning district classification from “B-2” General Business District to “R-3” Single and Two Family Residence District for 209 West Street was also approved.

The Aveka Wastewater Treatment Agreement for July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2019 was discussed by the council. City Clerk Allen Lyon indicated that a signed copy of the agreement had been received and the council voted to approve.

The Change Order #3 increase by $1,330.00 for Second Street NW to First Avenue NW Storm Sewer Improvements by Skyline Construction, Inc. was approved. The Partial Pay Estimate #4 Final $13,569.97 for Second Street NW to First Avenue NW Storm Sewer Improvements by Skyline Construction, Inc. was also approved, as was the Resolution accepting work covering the First Avenue NW and Second Street NW Storm Sewer Project.

The council discussed the 28E Agreement for mutual assistance for Northeast Iowa Area Law Enforcement Services. City Attorney Jim Garrett indicated that Young had reviewed the agreement and recommended approval. The council approved the agreement. The council also approved the Clark and Sheila Mellick property tax exemption for 506 Third Street SW.

The second reading of the ordinance amending the Code of Ordinances of the City of Waukon, Iowa 1998, by modifying procedures for the abatement of vegetation nuisances was approved. The second reading of the ordinance amending the Code of Ordinances of the City of Waukon, Iowa 1998, to establish a no parking zone on a portion of Eighth Street NW was also approved.

The council discussed the City’s sidewalk plan, with Garrett indicating that TeKippe has recommended three changes to the ordinance. The council agreed that Garrett and TeKippe will meet to discuss and make changes to the ordinance prior to the July 16 council meeting.

The council moved into discussion of the Ordinance increasing the water rate for Fiscal-Year 2019. Council members Gayle Decker and John Ellingson discussed research relating to alternative water rate structures and their impact upon revenue. The council approved the first reading of the Ordinance increasing water rates by three percent.

Young discussed the request to purchase a new video recorder for the Police Department at an approximate cost of $1,150.00 with the council approving the request. The Iowa DOT agreement for snow and ice removal on Ninth Street SW from July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2019 was also approved by the council.

EMS/ER Supervisor Diane Butikofer discussed the funding request for air conditioning in the Veterans Memorial Hospital Ambulance Garage. Butikofer indicated that thermometers have been installed in the garage to verify that medications stay within an acceptable temperature range, with a 68- to 77-degree range recommended by manufacturers. Butikofer indicated that if extreme temperatures of 104 degrees or -10 degrees are reached, medications stored within the ambulances must be destroyed. Council member Arvid Hatlan recommended the use of small refrigerators that can be installed within ambulances as a more cost effective solution rather than installing an air conditioning system in the ambulance garage. The council approved to not move forward with the air conditioning system for the ambulance garage and requested more information on refrigeration systems for the ambulances prior to the July 16 council meeting.

A vacation/sick time policy for employee catastrophic medical events was discussed by the council with Ellingson providing recommendations based upon his experience as a State employee. Ellingson recommended allowing City employees to be able to donate vacation, comp-time and holiday time to other employees needing time off due to medical reasons, but not to allow the donation of sick leave which may be needed by the employee themselves at some point. The council approved to have Attorney Garrett proceed with this matter.
Lyon discussed the next agenda item involving a delinquent utility account. Lyon indicated that the new owner of the property has paid the balance owed and the matter requires no action from the council.

The Resolution to transfer $41,453.72 from Road Use Tax to the Debt Service Fund for the principal and interest payment due July 20 on the Johnson Vacuum Sweeper Lease from Tax Exempt Leasing Corporation was approved by the council.

The council then discussed the Water and Sewer Superintendent position with arguments for and against the use of People Services to staff and manage water utility employees, with the other option discussed involving the hiring of a qualified local candidate. The council approved to offer the position to a candidate that has been interviewed at a salary of $70,000.00 with four weeks of vacation and a start date of July 30.

The council approved to offer the City Clerk position to a candidate that has been interviewed at a salary of $45,760.00 with three weeks of vacation. Young requested that the Police Vacancy agenda item be tabled as no decision has been made yet.

The Professional Services Agreement with Fehr-Graham Engineering for Spring Avenue was approved by the council. TeKippe discussed that the pre-cast intake box and screen for the storm sewer at Spring Avenue has been ordered which will divert the flow of the natural spring into the storm sewer.

Under Other Matters, Young discussed that several bicycles have remained unclaimed. Council members recommended the possibility of an auction if they remain unclaimed. Mosquitoes at the retention pond were also discussed.

Hatlan provided an update from recent communications with Aveka. Hatlan indicated that Aveka has agreed to not operate during the Allamakee County Fair, permits have been attained for replacement of the baghouse and a scrubber will be installed the first week of August.

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