Waukon City Council discusses street program, City Manager during work session; hears update on storm sewer repairs needed in Northgate addition and from pot-belly pig owner in regard to City code violation

by Joe Moses

The Waukon City Council met in a pair of sessions this past week. Coverage of both the Council's Tuesday, June 14 work session and Monday, June 20 regular session appears below.

The Waukon City Council met for a work session Tuesday evening, June 14 to discuss two ongoing issues, the City’s Street Program and the proposal of a City Manager position. Mayor Duane DeWalle spoke of the importance of traffic counts and how that information will better allow the City Council to prioritize necessary street projects. City Street Superintendent Keith Burrett and Council members discussed some inconsistencies between the designated truck route through Waukon and what GPS systems are showing as truck routes. Councilman Steve Wiedner suggested that the Street Department should keep moving forward with small projects and continuing progress while planning continues.

Mayor DeWalle, Councilmen Ben Rausch, John Lydon, Don Steffens and Steve Wiedner and City Attorney James Garrett discussed street assessments and property assessments. The City Council discussed funding options and assessment formulas, sorting through some examples but not making any formal decisions. The Council was in agreement that assistance is needed to help low-income property owners with the assessment situations.

The Council discussed the cost and benefit of using blacktop versus pavement in various project situations. Pavement was mentioned as having greater longevity at a much higher cost. Blacktop was discussed as a good option in conjunction with pavement in certain intersections.

The City Council was in agreement that Burrett, as Street Superintendent, has the authority to move forward with small projects around town as needed. The Council believes these small repairs need to be accomplished without delay and Burrett should have the authority to expedite the process of getting this work completed. Burrett mentioned a square of pavement in front of West Elementary as an example of a small project that needs attention.

The City Manager position was the other item discussed by the City Council. City Attorney Garrett provided the Council a copy of the City of Guttenberg's City Manager job description. The Council was in agreement that this was a good example. Lydon suggested that a full-time City Manager is preferable and that it would be beneficial that this person have grant writing knowledge, while Wiedner suggested that this position has some aspects of economic development, as this person will be helping to attract businesses to the area. It was discussed that the City Manager position needs to be better defined before the Council can move any further forward with it.

The Waukon City Council met in regular session at City Hall Monday evening, June 20 to discuss a full agenda of items, including the purchase of a pick-up and plow for the Street Department, issues with a tree causing problems in a local right of way and the Visu-Sewer report for the Northgate area. There were no comments during the public hearing for the Electric Franchise Ordinance which took place at the beginning of the meeting.

During the public comments portion of the meeting, local resident Sonya Lester addressed the City Council with her concerns about a letter she received from the City regarding her pot-belly pig. The letter informed her that the animal at her residence was in violation of City code as “livestock” and that she had until June 30 to remove the animal from her residence within City limits. Lester explained that “Snorty” has lived in Waukon for a year and is much like her other pets in that she is almost like a member of the family.
Lester advised the Council that her pot-belly pig is a pet that is walked with a harness and leash and occupies an outdoor kennel area when not within the home. The Council granted Lester a 30-day extension on her removal order and this issue will be added as an agenda item at an upcoming regular session.

Ardie Kuhse with Allamakee County Economic Development addressed the Council regarding the Tractorcade event that took place locally last week. Kuhse publicly thanked the City and the Council for their involvement and support. Kuhse commented that she has received nothing but positive comments from event participants. Waukon and all the communities involved were friendly and welcoming to the Tractorcade riders and support crew. Kuhse thanked Jeremy Strub, Park, Recreation and Wellness Director, and the Waukon Police Department for their help as well.

Under Department Reports, Police Chief Phil Young discussed that the speed trailer (see photo above on this same page) is up and running within the community. Young also said he and his officers were successful in guiding the Tractorcade in and out of town during the event. Bob Campbell, Water/Sewer Superintendent, commented that he would discuss several of the agenda items relating to his department rather than provide an update at this time. Pat Egan with the Street Department discussed some projects that need attention, including directional markings or hash marks on the airport runway.

Jeremy Strub provided an update for the Park, Recreation and Wellness Department, saying June is one of the department's busiest months. He said Tractorcade and Thunder in the Park were big events, and he also advised that the pond will be stocked with bluegills in the near future and was recently stocked with an extra load of small catfish by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

Under Regular Business, the Plaza Project concrete and electrical work was approved by the Council. The Plaza is in need of its own electrical system to power the large display sign and other light sources, and the sidewalk also needs to be replaced.

The purchase of a pick-up truck and plow for the Street Department was approved by the Council at a cost of $40,025. Larry Gelo, resident at 112 Third Avenue NE, has requested the removal of a tree in the street right of way at his property. The tree’s roots have caused the upheaval of his sidewalk and removal of the tree would be necessary for a new sidewalk to be poured. The Council approved the removal of the tree.

Construction of the ambulance garage addition at Veterans Memorial Hospital was approved. This will include a 36’ x 40’ x 16’ addition with plumbing, concrete and electrical work.

Three resolutions involving the 2016 Street Program were approved. The first authorizes the use of competitive quotation procedures and delegating authority to solicit and receive proposals. The second involves ordering preparations of detailed plans, specifications, notice of hearing, notice to bidders and form of contract. The third involves approving detailed plans, specifications, notice of hearing, notice to bidders and form of contract.

The Amendment to the City Code of Ordinances Chapter 141 – Use of Public Right of Way, was approved by the Council, as was the Alliant Franchise Ordinance. The second reading of the Ordinance changing zoning from “A-1” to “R-2” on a portion of 641 Eighth Avenue NW was also approved.

Lyle TeKippe, Senior Project Manager with Fehr-Graham Engineering, and Water/Sewer Superintendent Bob Campbell provided an update on the Visu-Sewer report for the Northgate area. Using the Visu-Sewer camera, storm sewer pipes can be inspected and areas in need of repair can be located. TeKippe commented that some cracks have been found and repairs are needed. Campbell added that some lines are being over-taxed when pumping and agreed the bad spots need to repaired.

The Rossville Road manhole replacement by Skyline Construction, Inc. has been completed and payment was approved. The Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) agreement for snow removal was also approved for shared routes throughout Waukon.

Campbell discussed the trade-in and purchase of a Bobcat for the Water and Sewer Department. The Council approved the purchase. The change order increasing contract price by $7,804.93 and the partial pay estimate $24,418.98 for Riehm Construction’s work on Valley Trail were both approved. The partial pay estimate of $15,771.42 for Rusty Berger Masonry’s work at the Northwest Detention Basin was also approved.

Approval was also given to the resolution approving the Police employee wage increases July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2017 in accordance with the Agreement between the City of Waukon Public Works and Chauffeurs, Teamsters and Helpers Local Union No. 238, effective July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2018. Similarly, the agreement for Public Works employee wage increases with Local Union No. 238 was also approved.

Reserve Police Officers have been hired for the Waukon Police Department and played a role in some of the larger events that took place in early June in the Waukon community. Samantha Hancock started June 12 with a starting wage of $14 per hour, and Eric Van Horn started June 11 with a starting wage of $14 per hour. Bryson Hennigar’s start date is yet to be determined with a starting wage of $15.26 per hour.

Discussion of the resolution approving salary and wages/benefits for department heads and non-union employees resulted in the issue being tabled until the June 27 work session. The next five agenda items were combined and approved by the Council. These included the following funds transfers: TIF Fund to the Administrative Sub Fund; Hotel/Motel (Park Improvement) Fund to the 2013 Flood Fund; Street Improvement Fund to the Storm Sewer Improvement Fund with payback; Special Revenue Employee Benefit Fund to the Library Fund; and 2016 Capital Improvement Fund to the 2013 Flood Fund.

A funds transfer from the Sewer Fund to Sewer Operation Maintenance Replacement Fund/Sewer Plant Improvement Fund was approved. This is a transfer of $150,000 from the $405,000 currently in that fund. Funds transfers from the Water Fund, Sewer Fund to the Capital Equipment Fund and from the Water Fund, Sewer Fund to the West Side Development Subdivision Fund were also both approved.

Under Other Matters at the end of the meeting, Waukon City Clerk Allen Lyon discussed the planned June 27 work session. Agenda items will include End of Year Claims, City Manager Position, Pond Project and Non-Union Wages and Vacation.

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