Waukon City Council hears presentation on importance of small town airports, discusses tax abatement possibilities

by Joe Moses

The Waukon City Council met in regular session Monday, January 21 to address a full agenda of items including budget review and department requests, discussion of the Urban Revitalization Program and tax abatement and a presentation from the Airport Commission.

Mayor Pat Stone called the meeting to order. There was no Public Comment and the City Council moved into Departmental Reports.

Street Superintendent Keith Burrett indicated that some minor equipment repairs have been made with preparations ongoing for expected weather conditions this week. Water and Sewer Superintendent Jim Cooper discussed the replacement of water tower lights and the potential purchase of a replacement camera system for viewing and determining whether sewer issues are homeowner or City responsibility.

Park and Rec Wellness Director Jeremy Strub indicated that the Waukon Wellness Center is off to a good start for the year and provided a brief overview of ongoing adult and youth activities. Strub discussed the Wellness Center’s 11th anniversary which is being celebrated this week through various events including prize drawings and free classes. Council member John Ellingson discussed with Strub the positive feedback he has received concerning snow removal at the Wellness Center from community members that regularly visit the center in the early morning hours.

City Manager Dean Hilgerson discussed the State Revolving Fund (SRF) conference call that took place last week regarding potential special projects. Hilgerson advised that the 2019 Department of Transportation (DOT) Street Project bid letting was January 16 with those results yet to be provided. Hilgerson indicated that a firm interested in conducting a sidewalk survey will be presenting information at the February 4 council meeting and that a couple more budget workshops will be scheduled.

Under Regular Business, the council approved the Resolution agreeing to transfer $14,943.51 from the General Fund (proceeds from storm water utility fees) to the Storm Sewer Improvement Fund for project improvements. The Resolution authorizing an internal advance to the Tax Increment Sub-Fund was approved.

The council discussed the Resolution approving the Addendum to the City Bridge Construction Funding agreement for the Green Valley Bridge project. Funding, engineering costs and the involvement of the State, County and City were discussed, with the council approving the resolution.

Hilgerson indicated that the Planning and Zoning Commission recently met and provided a recommendation to approve the Fareway Addition subdivision plat. The council discussed and reviewed the matter, approving the resolution.

Manager Jim Wadsworth with the Waukon Municipal Airport introduced Flight Instructor Tim Busch of Iowa Flight Training of Cedar Rapids. Busch conducted a presentation and answered questions relating to the importance of small town airports. Busch discussed the positive role that airports have in economic development as a factor business and industry look for in a community.

Busch discussed the importance of general aviation, community involvement and provided an overview of potential improvements including enclosed hangars, a terminal building, a longer runway and a ramp upgrade. Ellingson discussed grant programs that could assist in funding new hangar construction.

The council moved into Budget Review and Department Requests with Wadsworth discussing the Waukon Municipal Airport’s funding request related to runway seal coating and ramp maintenance.

Robey Memorial Library Board members Dean Sorenson, Eileen Franks and Linda Groe provided feedback to the council regarding the library’s funding and operation. Library Director Cate St. Clair provided an overview of the library’s budget and funding sources including State, County and City. St. Clair discussed staffing, salary recommendations for Fiscal-Year 2019/2020 and the employee evaluation process.

Emergency Medical Services/Emergency Room Supervisor Diane Butikofer with Veterans Memorial Hospital discussed the Ambulance Service’s budget and requests. Butikofer indicated that the ambulance garage roof is currently part of the three- to five-year plan and discussed an increase in equipment expenses. The council and Butikofer discussed the possibility of selling an ambulance that is due to be replaced, with those funds to be applied toward the purchase of a new ambulance.

The Second Amended and Substituted West Side Subdivision Development Agreement was reviewed by the council. City Attorney Jim Garrett advised that changes include the division in half of two large lots into four single family residence size lots and expediting the change of ownership from the City to the Waukon Economic Development Corporation (WEDC). The council approved the agreement.

The council moved into discussion of the Urban Revitalization Plan and tax abatement program. Mayor Stone and the council discussed the three-year tax abatement program with a gradual rate increase in comparison to a five-year tax abatement program being tax free for the duration. Stone indicated that the five-year program would be a great incentive for new construction with long term benefits for the City. Ellingson discussed the role of development agreements in the tax abatement process. No action was taken by the council.

Burrett discussed feedback received from a property owner near the 12th Street NW West Side Properties regarding the need for a street light to be installed. Police Chief Phil Young discussed repairs, maintenance and the schedule used for testing storm and fire sirens.

The Partial Pay Estimate No. 3 Final - River City Paving 2018 for First Avenue NW Resurfacing was approved by the council. Monday, January 28 at 6 p.m. was set as a Special Session for Budget Review.

The council then moved into closed session to discuss re-opening collective bargaining with Chauffeurs, Teamsters and Helpers Union Local No. 238 regarding Waukon Police Department wages. Prior to adjournment, the council approved to reopen those wage negotiations with information that had been presented during the closed session.
 

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