Waukon City Council approves changing regular council meetings to Wednesdays at 6 p.m. among other matters as new year begins

by Joe Moses

The Waukon City Council met in regular session Monday, January 6 to address a full agenda of items including mayor and council appointments, setting the time and date for future council meetings and designating the official depositories for City funds.

There was no Public Comment and the council moved into Departmental Reports with Police Chief Paul Wagner providing an update. Wagner indicated that Officer Fallon Cassidy is attending the academy and that he will be contacting the STEP Program relating to the purchase of preliminary breath testing (PBE) equipment. Wagner provided an update on work being done relating to the background check policy and recommended discussing recruitment methods used to assist in filling vacancies in the department.

Street Superintendent Keith Burrett indicated that weather conditions have allowed for maintenance, repair work and tree trimming to take place in addition to weather-related preparations. Water and Sewer Superintendent Jim Cooper provided an update on a lift station that may need repairs or replacement. Cooper reported that employee Mark Benda has completed his certification in Grade One Wastewater.

Park, Recreation and Wellness Director Jeremy Strub advised that the Biddy Basketball Program has begun and that December was a busy month for the Wellness Center. Strub reported that volleyball was offered for a few weeks during the holiday season.

City Manager Gary Boden indicated that discussions are ongoing relating to extending Aveka Nutra Processing’s water main to coincide with their facility expansion. Boden provided an update on planning matters that will be reviewed with the Personnel Committee and advised that furniture and chairs have arrived for the Council Chambers and his office.

Mayor Pat Stone provided an update that tree issues on Rose Magner’s property have been taken care of and that City Clerk Lana Snitker recently met with Luana Savings Bank to close the General Obligation Corporate Purpose and Refunding Bonds. Stone indicated that he met with Roger Mohn of Mohn Surveying relating to the Waukon Industrial Park Sidewalk Project.

The council moved into the review of several ordinances with the third and final reading being approved of the Ordinance amending provisions pertaining to conflict of interest. The third and final reading was approved of the Ordinance amending provisions pertaining to operating budget preparation. The second reading of the Ordinance increasing the fine for admitted violations of parking restrictions was approved. The first reading of the Ordinance providing for cost of living adjustments each year to the municipal water utility service rates was also approved.

The Public Hearing for Budget Amendment #1 for Fiscal-Year-Ending (FYE) June 30, 2020 was opened and closed without written or verbal comment. The council proceeded into the review of several resolutions including Budget Amendment #1 for FYE June 30, 2020 which was approved.

The Resolution relating to depositories of City funds was approved to include Waukon State Bank, Waukon ($9,000,000), FreedomBank, Waukon ($8,000,000), Kerndt Brothers Bank, Lansing ($8,000,000), Luana Savings Bank, Luana ($8,000,000), Decorah Bank and Trust, Decorah ($8,000,000). The Resolution changing the mileage reimbursement allowance for the use of private automobiles in conducting City business was approved at 57.5 cents per mile. The Resolution waiving the right to review the Mark Lomen Subdivision Plat was also approved.

Steve Kiesau, representing his father, Dale Kiesau, addressed the council relating to a request for a portion of a sewer fee to be reduced or waived. Kiesau explained that a water pipe at his father’s residence had leaked into the basement, which does not have a drain, with the water being pumped out a window and not into the sewer. The council approved to waive the $210.13 sewer portion of Dale Kiesau’s utility bill.

Boden provided an update on the Fifth Street SW Park Place Street Development Improvements Project with the council opting to table the matter for further discussion at the January 20 City Council meeting. The council approved the Agreement for the Department of Transportation (DOT) Initiated Detour of Primary Highways on to Local Roads.

Boden discussed the State Revolving Fund (SRF) Water Resource Restoration Sponsored Projects Program and what types of projects could and could not be funded through this program. The council opted to table this matter until the January 20 meeting and to invite a representative of Northeast Iowa Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D) to present information on options available.

Boden addressed the next agenda item relating to hiring replacements for City Hall, Street Department and Water and Sewer Department vacancies. Boden provided recommendations for responsibility changes for a few positions at City Hall. Vacancies at City Hall, the Water and Sewer Department and the Street Department were discussed, with the council approving to advertise those vacancies with the City Manager and Personnel Committee’s approval of job descriptions.

The council discussed the advantages and disadvantages of moving the City Council meeting time and date from 7 p.m. the first and third Monday of each month to 6 p.m. the second and fourth Wednesday of each month. Council member John Ellingson proposed making this change to better allow contractors and agencies to make presentations to the council and avoid conflicts with school concerts and sports. Ellingson added that eliminating these conflicts would encourage more individuals to run for elected city office.

Stone indicated that he would be against changing the meeting time and date. Boden commented that cities typically use Monday, Tuesday or Thursday nights for meetings with a 6 p.m. start time not uncommon. Following discussion, the council approved to set regular council meetings for the second and fourth Wednesday of each month at 6 p.m. at Waukon City Hall. City Attorney Jim Garrett will be preparing an ordinance relating to this matter.

The council approved The Standard as the designated official newspaper and designated the bulletin board in the City Hall entrance for agenda posting. Stone made council appointments not requiring council approval including Gayle Decker as Mayor Pro-Tem and committee appointments including the Fire Committee: Arvid Hatlan, John Lydon; Water/Sewer Committee: Lydon, Hatlan; Street Committee: Ben Rausch, Ellingson; Ordinance Committee: Ellingson, Decker; and Finance Committee: Decker and Rausch.

Stone’s appointment of Paul Wagner as Police Chief was approved by the council. Other council appointments approved include Lana Snitker as City Clerk, Dr. Nicole Barbee as Health Officer, Jim Cooper as Water/Sanitary Sewer Superintendent, Keith Burrett as Street Superintendent and Gary Boden as Zoning Administrator.

Prior to adjournment, the council moved into closed session per Iowa Code Chapter 21.5 (1) (j) to discuss the purchase or sale of real estate where premature disclosure could reasonably be expected to increase the price the governmental body would have to pay for that property or reduce the price the governmental body would receive for that property.

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