Waukon City Council discusses several matters involving wastewater treatment plant, street and sidewalk projects, possible letter of support to Menards

by Joe Moses

The Waukon City Council met in regular session Monday, November 5 to discuss a full agenda of items including discussion of a tenant and landlord’s responsibility regarding an overdue water bill, discussion of drafting a letter of support to Menards and several matters relating to the new Wastewater Treatment Facility.

There was no Public Comment and the council moved into Departmental Reports. Street Superintendent Keith Burrett provided an update on street maintenance projects including core-outs that have been blacktopped. He also said preparation for winter has begun for the Street Department.

Water and Sewer Superintendent Jim Cooper discussed a fire hydrant that has been replaced. Cooper informed the council that a valued employee, Coady Heiderscheit, has accepted a position with the Water and Sewer Department for the City of Lansing. Cooper also discussed the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) inspection that took place a month ago with three violations, and he outlined how each violation is being resolved moving forward.

Park and Recreation Wellness Director Jeremy Strub indicated that winterization has been accomplished at the City Park, campground and swimming pool. He also said that the Park and Wellness Board has made preparations to take over responsibility for sidewalk snow removal at the Waukon Wellness Center.

City Manager Dean Hilgerson indicated that an abstract has been completed for the property adjacent to the wastewater treatment facility site and that requests for proposal have been sent out to research costs for budget purposes regarding a new police station. Hilgerson provided a brief update on a State Revolving Fund (SRF) watershed quality project. Hilgerson also indicated that he is working with Alliant Energy regarding the street light conversion involving over 40 street lights and that he will be attending a budget workshop. Hilgerson also discussed the potential vacating of an alley and feedback received from adjacent property owners.

The council moved into Regular Business with the approval of the Resolution ordering preparations of detailed plans, specifications, notice of hearing, notice to bidders and form of contract for the Wastewater Treatment Plant, which the council gave its final approval to. Project Engineer Lucas Elsbernd with Fehr Graham Engineering presented a copy of the Wastewater Treatment Plant plans to the council and discussed the submission process with the DNR and the timeline for approval.

December 17 at 7 p.m. was approved for the Public Hearing to review an application for a State Revolving Fund (SRF) loan and to make available to the public the contents of an environmental information document and the City’s project plan for the wastewater treatment plant.

Two financial matters were individually reviewed and approved. The Resolution agreeing to transfer $19,000 from the General Fund (property taxes) to the Library Fund for library expenses and the Resolution agreeing to transfer $30,930 from the TIF Fund to the Debt Service Fund for the interest payments due December 1, 2018 on the General Obligation Bonds were both approved.

Mayor Pat Stone discussed the next agenda item involving resident Tom Duvel’s concerns relating to street maintenance plans. No action was taken by the council.

Lyle Bodensteiner of Waukon discussed his concerns relating to a water bill and notice received due to a former tenant. Bodensteiner indicated that the City had notified the tenant that service would be terminated April 18 if payment was not made but service continued beyond that date resulting in additional costs and penalties. The council and Bodensteiner discussed City code relating to property owners, tenants and water utility billing. Following a lengthy discussion, the council agreed that Bodensteiner would be responsible for the tenant’s water usage up to the April 18 service termination date mentioned in the notice with penalties waived.

The urban revitalization program application for property tax exemption from Dwight and Danette Jones at 307 Second Street NE was reviewed by the council, which approved the process to continue with submission to the Allamakee County Courthouse. The council discussed options relating to the Planning and Zoning Commission including potential candidates to fill current vacancies and the possibility of reducing this board from seven to five members.

Hilgerson provided an overview of the 2019 Department of Transportation (DOT) street project pre-construction agreement, with the council reviewing and approving the agreement. Hilgerson also discussed the 2019 DOT street and sidewalk project’s tree removal and disposal with the role of the contractor to include ownership of the trees removed from Allamakee Street and West Main Street. Hilgerson also provided an overview of the street light circuitry to be installed on East Main, West Street SW and First Street NW.

The council moved into discussion of the Walk-On Waukon/Fehr Graham proposal to engineer the group’s proposed sidewalk project. Brooke Troendle with Walk-On Waukon discussed the group’s fundraising efforts and timeline for using grant funds that have been awarded. The council and Senior Project Manager Lyle TeKippe discussed various sections of proposed sidewalk and associated costs and options.

Strub provided a recommendation to accept the low bid and contract to remove 56 trees in the Waukon City Park, which the council approved.

Stone discussed the next matter involving Menards, which was added to the agenda at the beginning of the city council meeting in light of the company’s recent decision to no longer pursue constructing a new store in the Decorah area. Stone explained that he is recommending a letter be drafted as an invitation from the council, indicating their support of Menards’ consideration of Waukon as a store location. Stone called for a roll call vote, with council member John Ellingson advising that a roll call vote is not appropriate or within procedure with this matter having been just added to the agenda. Council member Gayle Decker expressed his support individually to allow the mayor to move forward with a letter to Menards. Two other council members raised their hands in a show of support for the letter. The council agreed that formal action was not warranted at this time and no action was taken.

Stone discussed feedback received regarding damage caused by gophers at the Waukon Municipal Airport and damage to the lawns of nearby property owners. No action was taken by the council.

Strub provided an overview of the Waukon Wellness Center’s 5K Turkey Trot event and recommended approval of the event to take place November 22 from 8:30 a.m. to Noon. The council approved the plans for the 5K Turkey Trot.

Hilgerson discussed the Iowa League of Cities Budget Workshop which will take place November 27 in Waverly. The council approved Hilgerson and City Clerk Lana Snitker to attend the workshop.

Hilgerson and the council discussed the Iowa Association of Municipal Utilities (IAMU) Safety Training. Hilgerson indicated that the IAMU safety training is less expensive and of better quality than similar training offered by private entities. Hilgerson recommended enrolling in the IAMU safety training program with the city manager and department heads determining which training sessions and personnel are appropriate, with the council approving the enrollment.

The council discussed that Waukon City Hall will be closed Friday, November 23 due to the Thanksgiving holiday. That closure does not constitute a paid holiday for personnel, requiring the use of vacation time.

Under Other Matters, Waukon Police Chief Phil Young discussed response times involved for Alliant Energy to disconnect electricity in fire or emergency situations and options available to improve those response times.

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