Waukon City Council holds public hearings on sewer plant financing, addresses some Police Department personnel items, snow removal, water bills among other matters

by Joe Moses

The Waukon City Council met in regular session Monday, February 18 to address a full agenda of items. The Public Hearing on a proposal to enter into a Sewer Revenue Loan and Disbursement Agreement was opened and closed. City Clerk Lana Snitker indicated that no verbal or written comments were received regarding the matter.

The Public Hearing on a proposal to enter into a General Obligation Sewer Improvement Loan and Disbursement was also opened and closed without any verbal or written comments.

During Public Comment, Brooke Troendle of the Walk-On Waukon group discussed the status of a grant for sidewalks and matching funds committed by the City. Mayor Pat Stone advised Troendle to follow-up on the matter at a future meeting with budget work having recently concluded. Council member John Ellingson provided feedback on capital project budget planning to include approximately 20% for engineering and 10-15% for contingency.

Under Departmental Reports, Police Chief Phil Young discussed the use of forfeiture money to be applied towards the purchase of firearms that are due for replacement within the department. Young discussed that Officer Jeremy Wicks has submitted his resignation and that a few applications have been received and are being reviewed.

Street Superintendent Keith Burrett discussed that the City’s maintainer has had some mechanical issues with an aluminum gear requiring replacement. Burrett and the council discussed the need for a skid loader capable of dumping into a dump truck to aid in snow removal and other tasks. Specifics including attachments and severe duty foam-filled tires were discussed, with Burrett agreeing to research skid loader pricing and this matter to be added to the next meeting agenda.

Water and Sewer Superintendent Jim Cooper discussed in-pipe and flow violations dating back to July 2018 and how these matters have been addressed and the need for sewer linings to reduce infiltration.

Park and Rec Wellness Director Jeremy Strub provided an update on a U.S. Tennis Association grant for the tennis court project which he indicated will likely be put up for bid this spring with construction taking place this summer.

Under Regular Business, the council individually reviewed and approved the following resolutions:

• Resolution authorizing internal advance to tax increment subfund
• Resolution agreeing to the transfer of $22,386.93 from the Special Revenue – Employee Benefit Fund to the Library Fund
• Resolution agreeing to close the extension of Highway 76 and Highway 9 and 76 for the St. Patrick’s Day Parade March 17
• Resolution agreeing to close the extension of Highway 76 N and Highway 9/76 for the Waukon Holiday Parade
• Resolution taking additional action on proposal to enter into a Sewer Loan and Disbursement Agreement
• Resolution taking additional action on proposal to enter into a General Obligation Sewer Improvement Loan and Disbursement Agreement
• Resolution approving Contract and Performance and Payment Bonds for the Wastewater Treatment Plant Improvements Project.

Project Manager Zach Quale with Precision Sidewalk Cutting conducted a presentation for the council describing his company’s services in sidewalk trip hazard repair using a saw-cutting method. Quale indicated that this method offers significant cost savings of 70-80% in comparison to other repair options and requires only 15 minutes per individual repair. Quale discussed work completed in Independence and other communities in Iowa and that the process used includes dust abatement equipment to minimize air pollution and environmental impact.

The Agreement for the Green Valley Bridge Additional Professional Services was approved.

The council discussed a wage increase for non-union police department employees, opting to table the matter for further discussion at the March 4 regular session. Reserve officer pay rates and work responsibilities were discussed. The hiring of Mary E. Bissell as a Reserve Officer was approved with a starting date of February 5 and a starting wage of $16.85 per hour.

Burrett indicated that snow removal truck hire rates are currently $55 per hour for a tandem axle truck and $45 per hour for a single axle truck, and that those rates have been in place since 2007. Burrett discussed the area companies that have assisted with snow removal work and concerns that the current rates may be limiting the number of trucks being available for hire to assist in snow removal. The council approved to raise truck rates to $85 per hour for a tandem axle truck and $60 per hour for a single axle truck.

A minimal dollar amount of penalties, late fee charges and deposit requirements for the Waukon Shopko location were waived by the council in consideration of the financial restructuring the Shopko corporation is currently undergoing.

Jessica Brown of Waukon requested an extension on her water bill. Brown discussed a family matter requiring her to be off work and that she intends to pay the bill in full. The council agreed to forgo any action if the bill is paid before March 4.

Matt Teslow requested that late fees and penalties be waived for his rental property at 105 First Avenue SW. Teslow discussed a misunderstanding related to the grace period, due date and late date regarding this billing and that three repairs were made in an effort to resolve a water leak. No action was taken by the council.

The council discussed the Urban Revitalization Plan, tax abatement program and development agreements. Mayor Stone discussed tax abatement programs as a method to increase new home construction. Ellingson advised that additional discussion and research take place before making a recommendation. Council member Ben Rausch requested that City Clerk Snitker scan and forward the research conducted about similar programs in neighboring communities.

The Post Prom/Waukon Project Prom Committee request was reviewed by the council. Strub indicated that the Wellness Center has previously donated passes for this effort. The council agreed to support the Wellness Center in supporting this cause.

Under Other Matters, the Veterans Memorial Hospital (VMH) Clinic in Monona and revenue from a potential sale of the building were discussed.

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