Waukon City Council observes moment of silence in honor of recently passed City employee, discusses employee health insurance among other matters

by Joe Moses

The Waukon City Council met in regular session Monday, November 18 to address a full agenda of items including a presentation relating to health care coverage for City employees, the first reading of a nuisance abatement ordinance relating to dead trees on private property and bids received for a Park and Recreation Department vehicle.

During Public Comment, Director Ardie Kuhse with Waukon Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) provided a recap of Veterans Memorial Hospital’s (VMH) Christmas Fantasy event that was held over the weekend, which she described as being well attended while drawing many from outside of the Waukon area. Kuhse also discussed the scheduled closure of the Mayo Clinic in Waukon December 14, advising that she has contacted Iowa Works and that meetings are scheduled this week to assist displaced Mayo Clinic employees with services including job search and training.

Under Departmental Reports, Police Chief Paul Wagner discussed a background check training that he will be part of in the near future. Street Superintendent Keith Burrett discussed putting up holiday decorations on light poles in the downtown area prior to the Lighted Holiday Parade scheduled for Monday, December 2 and that snow fence will also be put in place soon.

Water and Sewer Superintendent Jim Cooper provided an update on a sewer line project on City property and commended his crew for work done repairing a water main break Saturday, November 9. Cooper also addressed questions about snow removal on the Spring Avenue island between Kwik Star and the Plaza. He reported that concerns were raised about snow being pushed next to parked vehicles in clearing the island, which is considered an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant sidewalk while being linked to the crosswalk. Cooper also provided an update on the new wastewater treatment facility project.

Park and Rec Wellness Director Jeremy Strub indicated that use of the Wellness Center has picked up with the cold weather and that his department has gladly agreed to assist Robey Memorial Library with snow removal and will be working with the Library Board relating to supplies in this work. Strub also discussed the upcoming “Turkey Trot” Run/Walk scheduled for Thanksgiving Day, November 28 at 8:30 a.m. with 80 participants signed up thus far.

Mayor Pat Stone discussed his attendance and involvement in recent meetings with WEDC and the Fire Board. Council member Arvid Hatlan discussed compliments received relating to snow removal by the Fire Station.

The council moved into the Ordinance classifying a dead or dying tree located on private property as a nuisance, providing for the scope of the abatement required and designating the Zoning Administrator as an authorized officer to enforce nuisance abatement requirements. The first reading of the ordinance was approved.

Stone read aloud a resolution recognizing Brent Johnson’s employment with the City of Waukon in both its Water and Sewer and Street Departments from March 8, 2011 to November 8, 2019, and also stating that the Waukon City Council extends sympathy to his family on his passing. A moment of silence was observed in honor of Brent Johnson, who passed away recently after a bout with cancer.

The council approved to compile ordinances as a supplement to the Code of Ordinances (#786-796), in essence approving the addition of ordinances to City Code. The appropriation of tax funds for the tax rebate for the 2021 Fiscal-Year for the second Innovative Ag Development Agreement was approved, as well as for the second Reel Core Development Agreement.

The council approved $598,500 as the amount of TIF Increment Tax requested for the Fiscal-Year Ending 2021.

City Attorney Jim Garrett discussed waiving the right to review the Joanne Heffern, Jeanne Schulte, Patrick Fahey and James W. Fahey subdivision plat. Garrett indicated that the property is outside of city limits but within two miles of the city, allowing review of the matter. Garrett recommended waiving the right to review with the council in agreement.

Managing Director Travis Squires of Piper Jaffray and Co. provided an overview of the next agenda item by speakerphone, addressing the Bond Purchase Agreement for General Obligation Corporate Purpose and Refunding Bonds and authorizing redemption of outstanding General Obligation Corporate Purpose Bonds. Squires discussed the proposals received and provided a recommendation to accept the proposal from Luana Savings Bank with a 1.92% financing rate, representing a $50,000 interest savings in comparison to the next closest proposal. The council approved the bond purchase proposal from Luana Savings Bank.

Co-President Ranae Warren of Group Services provided a presentation and answered questions relating to City employee health care coverage, cost trends and options available. Warren provided a recommendation to renew the current insurance plan for calendar year 2020. Stone recommended adding health insurance contributions to the salary research being conducted by City Manager Gary Boden. The Group Health insurance renewal for calendar year 2020 was approved.

Jessica Brown discussed payment of a water bill and her request to change the billing name to her husband on this account. A final meter read was discussed with Brown’s name then to be removed from the account with Brown remaining responsible for the prior delinquent amount. It was indicated that Brown’s husband would need to request that his name be added to the account. No action was taken by the council on this matter.

City Clerk Lana Snitker opened bids received for the Park and Recreation Department’s 1993 Ford Ranger pick-up. Three bids were received with the high bid of $876 from Erik Helgerson being approved.

Garrett discussed recommendations by Codification Services for possible ordinances to conform to State Code changes. Garrett indicated that Waukon is compliant with Senate File (SF) 447 relating to the power of cities in regulating certain building restrictions with a similar change having been approved by the council earlier in the year. Garrett indicated that the second recommendation relates to a change from $1,500 to $6,000 as the limit per fiscal year for purchases or services by a City that benefit a City officer or employee. Garrett also discussed the third recommendation relating to SF 634 involving city budgets and limitations. It was approved that Garrett order the ordinance updates.

Wagner discussed past due parking fines and options available to promote timely payment. An increase to the parking fine was discussed as an option with late penalties. Garrett agreed to follow up with Wagner to discuss options available under State Code, and the matter could be added to the next meeting agenda.

The lease for the City’s agricultural property near the airport was discussed with the continuation of the lease agreement with John Byrnes being approved. The Wastewater Treatment Plant Project Pay Application #6 in the amount of $269,802.86 was approved.

Strub addressed the next agenda item relating to the Tennis Courts Project Change Order #1, indicating that this essentially is not a change order but rather a stipulation by the United States Tennis Association (USTA) that was previously factored into the project cost and is necessary for USTA’s financial contribution. Strub advised the expense relates to the installation of a membrane between layers of asphalt that will extend the life of the tennis court surface. The matter was approved by the council. The Tennis Courts Project Pay Application #2 in the amount of $48,245.58 was discussed with the council approving the payment.

The contract for computer system network project – information technology (IT) service was approved. The Annual Urban Renewal (TIF) report for FYE June 30, 2019 was also approved.

Stone reported that City Hall will be closed Friday, November 29, as well as Thursday, November 28 in observance of the Thanksgiving Holiday. Prior to adjournment, the council approved the Planning and Zoning Commission term for Harvey Estebo to end September 21, 2024 as a correction to a previous declaration.

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