Waukon City Council discusses Walk-On Waukon sidewalk project, variety of clerical and financial items in regular session

by Joe Moses

The Waukon City Council met in regular session Monday, December 3 to discuss a full agenda of items including the Walk-On Waukon sidewalk project, a Water/Sewer Department hiring and revisions to city code involving delinquent utility accounts. There was no Public Comment and the council moved into Departmental Reports.

Police Chief Phil Young indicated that it was a busy weekend and discussed the response to a fire in the trailer court. Street Superintendent Keith Burrett discussed a recent snow maintenance class that he attended in Dubuque and that Blake’s Excavating had completed creek dredging work.

Water and Sewer Superintendent Jim Cooper discussed that a construction company recently visited Waukon’s wastewater treatment facility in anticipation of the new wastewater treatment facility project with another company scheduled to visit soon. Cooper indicated that more construction companies will be visiting as part of the bidding process. Cooper also provided an update on some lift station repair work.

Park and Rec Wellness Director Jeremy Strub advised that the Turkey Trot 5K Run/Walk held during the Thanksgiving holiday went well with 111 participants. Strub indicated that use of the Wellness Center has increased with cooler temperatures, and he also provided an update on the winter activities that are beginning.

City Manager Dean Hilgerson discussed the inquiries received and website traffic relating to the new wastewater treatment facility and indicated that hardcopies of the plans and contract have been received at City Hall. Hilgerson discussed cost projections for the wastewater treatment facility project and that he and City Clerk Lana Snitker recently attended a budget workshop coordinated by the Iowa League of Cities. Hilgerson advised of a special projects workshop in Ankeny that he also attended. Hilgerson indicated that he and Snitker will be busy with preliminary budget work.

Under Regular Business, the council approved the Second Reading of the Ordinance reducing the number of members of the Planning and Zoning Commission from seven to five.

The next several agenda items involved the First Reading of Ordinances which were individually approved, including amending provisions pertaining to alcoholic beverage control, amending provisions pertaining to traffic regulations, amending provisions pertaining to cigarette and tobacco permits, repealing provisions relating to imprisonment for persons convicted of city code violations and imposing liability on the owner of any lot or parcel abutting on a public sidewalk for injury resulting from failure to maintain sidewalk in good repair.

City Attorney Jim Garrett provided an overview of the Ordinance revising city code provisions dealing with delinquent utility accounts. Garrett discussed potential updates involving the repair or installation of a curb stop in cases of non-payment. Garrett and the council also discussed the installation of radio controlled water meters as an alternative at the discretion of the Water and Sewer Superintendent. The matter was tabled for further discussion at a future council meeting.

The council individually reviewed and approved the next three agenda items involving routine financial matters, including the Resolution to transfer $3,558.66 from the TIF fund to the Debt Service Fund for the City’s equalization interest payment due December 1, 2018 to the County (per agreement) for the Waukon Fire Station, the Resolution to transfer $3,556.64 from the Hotel/Motel (Park Improvements) Fund to the Flood Fund for the Valley Trail Flood Repairs Project, and the Resolution to transfer $7,098.92 (Hotel/Motel money received in November) from the General Fund to the Motel/Hotel (Park Improvements) Fund (75%) and the Hotel/Motel (Tourism/Economic Development) Fund (25%).

The council approved the Change Order No. 3 for Riehm Construction involving the Valley Trail flood repair work. The council also approved Partial Pay Estimate No. 4 and No. 5 (Final) for Riehm Construction regarding the Valley Trail flood repair project.

Hilgerson discussed the group health insurance renewal for calendar year 2019. He advised that the grandfathered status has continued for another year under the same plan keeping rates low to comparable insurance coverage. The council approved the group health insurance coverage.

The Urban Revitalization Program application for property tax exemption for Dennis E. and Connie G. Kromer at 305 Second Street NE was reviewed and approved. The use of a renter’s deposit for a final utility bill was also reviewed and approved. Hilgerson also provided an update on the Hawkins property purchase.

Brooke Troendle and Jane McCormick of the Walk-On Waukon group provided feedback and answered questions regarding the sidewalk project planning and fundraising. Troendle indicated that the group is willing to work with the City and divide this project into a multi-year effort. Troendle questioned whether or not there are options to decrease engineering costs and council member John Ellingson advised that engineering is a government requirement for a project of this size.

Council member Ben Rausch suggested that a financial commitment from the City would be beneficial in qualifying for additional grants for different phases of this project. Council member Gayle Decker discussed concerns relating to whether or not TIF could be applied to this project. Ellingson further suggested that the council would be more comfortable making a financial commitment to the sidewalk project in a month following budget planning.

Hilgerson asked the council to clarify his level of involvement with the Walk-On Waukon group moving forward. Hilgerson also indicated that he will request solid estimates for engineering costs.

Hilgerson then discussed the new Police Station request for proposals (RFP) and recommended that each of the three firms that have responded be interviewed to determine if this project will move forward in Fiscal-Year 2020.

The council moved into the Water/Sewer Department open position agenda item. Cooper indicated that three qualified candidates were interviewed and that a recommendation is being provided to hire Wyatt Blake at the Union Contract wage of $14 per hour with a start date of December 17. The council approved the hiring.

Under Other Matters, Rausch discussed meeting with a high-speed internet provider regarding the possibility of that company’s services being offered within Waukon.

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