Waukon City Council approves property tax levy for Fiscal Year ending June 30, 2021, discusses street assessments among other matters at regular session

by Joe Moses

The Waukon City Council met in regular session Monday, February 3 to address a full agenda of items including the Public Hearing for a Proposed Tax Levy, discussion of restructuring administrative functions at City Hall and an offer from the City to buy and accept the former Tierney building.

There was no Public Comment and the meeting moved into Department Reports with Police Chief Paul Wagner providing an update. Wagner indicated that 65 job applications were received prior to the submission deadline for the administrative assistant position in the Waukon Police Department.

Assistant Police Chief Luke Inglett discussed crosswalk safety for children with motorists being required by State law to yield to anyone within the crosswalk. Inglett reported that the public has raised concerns about children waiting at the curb at crosswalks with vehicles not stopping and that education on the matter with the school district is being planned.

Council member Ben Rausch advised that young children have been taught to wait within the curb for safety rather than to enter the crosswalk. Wagner indicated that crosswalk safety education through the newspaper and social media is also planned for pedestrians and motorists. Council member Gayle Decker added that some crosswalks may need to be repainted to eliminate any confusion by motorists as to their location and that pedestrians need to use the crosswalks rather than jaywalking. Wagner reported that a camera has been installed within the newly updated traffic signal intersection downtown.

Street Superintendent Keith Burrett indicated that 16 applications have been received for a vacancy in his department with a hire taking place yet this winter being ideal to allow the individual to gain experience using a snowplow rather than waiting until next winter. Burrett discussed feedback received from the public relating to the replacement traffic signal and turning lanes.

Water and Sewer Superintendent Jim Cooper reported that staff member Mark Benda is currently in Des Moines attending water classes and provided an update relating to lift station repairs. Cooper provided a recommendation to purchase a generator and housing to be placed at a lift station.

Park and Rec Wellness Director Jeremy Strub advised that the winter months are a busy time at the Wellness Center. He also provided an update on the maintenance of the heating system there.

City Manager Gary Boden indicated that requests for quotes have been made relating to the proposed subdivision in the northwest corner of town to allow the council to give direction on this matter at the March 2 city council meeting. Boden advised that 56 applications were received for the account clerk position and provided an update on the application review process. Boden provided a recommendation to set Monday, February 24 as the date for a budget-related special meeting with a public hearing to be set for March 16.

Mayor Pat Stone discussed some concerns raised by residents relating to residential intersections and signage.

The Public Hearing for the Proposed Tax Levy for Fiscal-Year Ending (FYE) June 30, 2021 was opened. City Clerk Lana Snitker indicated one written comment was received in response to this matter by Colleen Gragg. Boden indicated that he received one phone call with the written and verbal response being inquiries rather than opposition to this matter and that clarification was provided. Stone discussed feedback received from residents through social media relating to schedule conflicts between the Iowa Caucus and this public hearing. The Public Hearing was closed.

Snitker indicated that the maximum amount of the levy is $1,584,345.00, which amounts to just over $13 per $1,000 property valuation, representing a maximum increase of just over three percent, or less than 40 cents per $1,000 valuation, from the current levy. The Property Tax Levy maximum for FYE June 30, 2021 was approved by the council.

The Third and Final Reading of the Ordinance increasing the fine for admitted parking restriction violations was approved. The Second Reading of the Ordinance providing for annual increases of 2.5% each year to the municipal water utility services rates was approved. The First Reading of the Ordinance changing the day and beginning time of regular city council meetings was also discussed with the council opting to table the matter with the current meeting schedule to continue.

Derek Bernatz of Waukon addressed the next agenda item relating to his request to reduce the sewer portion of a utility bill. Bernatz indicated that the sewer portion of the utility bill was less than he anticipated and withdrew his request for reduction.

Mike and Linda Ferring of Waukon discussed the agenda item relating to parking on Seventh Street SW and West Main Street. This matter was previously discussed at the January 20 council meeting. The Ferrings previously indicated that an agreement was made with the City to allow two overnight parking spots designated for their apartment renters with the understanding that they or a contractor would be performing snow removal for these parking spots.

At Monday’s meeting, the Ferrings indicated that they had approached the council in 2006 relating to this agreement. With documentation of the agreement not found, the council approved to have City Attorney Jim Garrett draft an agreement to be reviewed at the next council meeting.

The council approved to submit the Urban Revitalization Program Application for Property Tax Exemption for Piggott Homes, LLC/Justin Piggott to the Allamakee County Courthouse for processing. The Martin Gardner Architecture Agreement for Police Station renovations was also approved.

The offer to buy real estate and acceptance of the former Tierney building was approved. The council and Boden discussed that this matter allows the City to have authority to negotiate the sale of the building directly, with the property transfer taking place from Waukon Economic Development Corporation (WEDC).

The council discussed the potential for a home demolition match incentive to encourage the destruction of dilapidated homes. The availability of grant funding was discussed with the council agreeing the requirement to rebuild homes would be necessary for matching funds from the City and that sample policies would be researched.

Boden addressed the next agenda item relating to the restructuring of administrative functions at City Hall. Boden indicated that the Utilities Clerk job description will remain unchanged and provided an overview of the restructured City Clerk job description which will focus on record management and city council meetings. Boden also discussed the Finance Director position which will allow Snitker to utilize her background as a certified public accountant (CPA) to work more with budgeting and financial oversight.

Boden discussed the possibility of developing an ordinance relating to special assessments and provided a recap of his previous recommendation for street assessments to not exceed $4,800 and to be spread over a ten-year period at $40 per month. Boden indicated that if directed to do so, he would work with Garrett in the development of this ordinance, with the council approving the development of a draft of this ordinance.

The council moved into closed session to address strategy relating to employee union contract negotiations exempt from Iowa open meetings law by Iowa Code Chapter 20.17(3). Prior to adjournment, another closed session was held per Iowa Code Section 21.5(1)(i) to evaluate the professional competency of an individual whose appointment, hiring, performance or discharge is being considered when necessary to prevent needless and irreparable injury to that individual’s reputation and that individual requests a closed session.
 

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