Waukon City Council approves first reading of amendment adjusting voting ward boundaries, addresses numerous financial matters pertaining to City projects

by Joe Moses

The Waukon City Council met in regular session Monday, November 15 to address a full agenda of items. There was no Public Comment and the meeting moved into Department Reports.

Park, Rec and Wellness Director Jeremy Strub provided an update advising that the Waukon City Park has closed up for the season and that winter season programs are beginning with basketball. Strub advised that use of the Wellness Center has picked up with cooler temperatures. He also discussed a grant through the State of Iowa relating to lost revenue calculated at $77,778 between 2019 and 2020 with the grant awarding $58,333 to compensate for that lost revenue.

Council member Gayle Decker discussed reports of large of groups of children at the Wellness Center after school. Strub said that the Wellness Center has seen an increase in the number of fifth and sixth graders after school with that facility not designed for groups of 50-60 children at one time, with 10-20 children being more manageable. Strub added that a policy has been put in place requiring a membership for middle school students, which has returned that after school group back to the normal level of 10-20 middle school students using the basketball court.

Decker suggested researching other opportunities allowing for gym use with supervision elsewhere in the community. The current after school program with gym space availability was discussed, with many of those middle school students opting to go to the Wellness Center rather than utilizing the gym space at school prior to the policy change at the Wellness Center.

Water and Sewer Superintendent Jim Cooper advised that jetting of sewer lines on the southeast side of town has been completed, which is accomplished in quadrants with trouble areas addressed in the fall and spring. Cooper discussed work completed by Skyline Construction in connecting water for the Bresnahan addition. He and the council discussed sidewalk snow removal at the former McCabe property and the Waukon Mobile Home Community with notification to be provided that as private business areas this is no longer a responsibility of the City of Waukon.

Street Superintendent Keith Burrett advised that Wednesday, November 24 is the final day for leaf pick-up and that November 15 the City’s winter parking ordinance goes into effect.

Police Chief Paul Wagner provided an update on the projected delivery of a patrol vehicle for the Police Department. Decker and Wagner discussed the sale of the Waukon Police Department’s Dodge Durango to another law enforcement agency.

Senior Project Manager Lyle TeKippe of Fehr Graham Engineering provided the Street Improvement Project Report. TeKippe noted that a checklist of details to be addressed in the spring or that were delayed due to weather has been made with a final sign-off on the project not happening until these items are completed or addressed.

Council member Arvid Hatlan discussed delays relating to staking not being done in a timely manner with TeKippe advising that additional personnel will be in place to prevent this issue from happening in the spring. Hatlan discussed other concerns relating to inspected work later being redone to be Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant, with TeKippe advising that will not be an issue in the future.

City Attorney Jeff Swartz provided a brief update relating to the agreement associated with the former JCPenney/Tierney building renovation. Swartz also noted that work is progressing on the City’s employee handbook with over 60 pages completed and a final draft to be ready in December.

City Manager Gary Boden further discussed the JCPenney/Tierney building renovation and conversion into a steakhouse restaurant with a meeting with the architect to take place soon relating to the final cost estimate and design for the project. Boden advised that he authorized an ambulance garage roof repair in the amount of $7,050, which was originally estimated $1,300 less than that amount and that additional cost to come out of the General Fund.

Mayor Pat Stone discussed a recent comment from a rural Waukon resident living three miles outside of town expressing concerns relating to a rodeo event scheduled at a neighbor’s property. Stone said that he has had several residents express concern about flags with derogatory language directed at political figures. He recommended that the council stay on point relating to agenda items with off-topic matters being added as agenda items for future council meetings.

The council moved into the consideration of the police academy payment and contract for Officer Mason Kwilinski. Stone and the council discussed the police academy payment to be included in Kwilinski’s contract with reimbursement to the City to be pro-rated over four years should he leave the department. The council approved the updated contract to include the four-year pro-rated reimbursement to the City.

The Public Hearing for the proposed Amendment to the Southeast Urban Renewal Area was opened with Waukon City Clerk Sarah Snitker indicating that no written or verbal comments have been received. The Public Hearing was closed.

The Resolution to declare necessity and to establish the Urban Renewal Area, Pursuant to Section 403.4 of the Code of Iowa, and to approve the Urban Renewal Plan Amendment for the Southeast Urban Renewal Area was next addressed by the council. Boden clarified that the Southeast Urban Renewal Area actually covers much of Waukon. The Resolution was approved by the council.

The First Reading of the Ordinance providing for the Division of Taxes Levied on Taxable Property in the November, 2021 Addition to the Southeast Urban Renewal Area, Pursuant to Section 403.19 of the Code of Iowa was approved with the Second and Third Readings being waived and adoption taking place.

The First Reading of the Amendment of Provisions Pertaining to Ward and Election Precinct Boundaries was approved, with those ward boundaries required to be adjusted every 10 years to maintain population equality following each U.S. Census. Boden provided clarification on the ward map by noting that 1,276 people per ward would be necessary for each ward to be equal with some slight variances above and below that number allowing for ward boundary lines to be reasonable, recognizable and make sense for residents to identify which one of the City’s three voting wards they live within.

The council approved four Resolutions in a single vote, including:

Resolution Authorizing Internal Advance for Funding of Urban Renewal Project (McMillan Property Expansion Project).
Resolution Authorizing Internal Advance for Funding of Urban Renewal Project (Downtown Building Rehabilitation Project).
Resolution Authorizing Internal Advance for Funding of Urban Renewal Project (2021 NW Public Infrastructure Project).
Resolution Certifying Amount Available TIF Increment Tax Requested for the 2023 Fiscal-Year.

Swartz discussed the Resolution Approving the 28E Agreement with Northeast Iowa Community Action Corporation (NEICAC) for Funding for Services. He advised that this and similar relationships with organizations will need to be defined as 28E agreements moving forward. The council approved the Resolution relating to the 28E Agreement with NEICAC.

Managing Director Travis Squires of Piper Jaffray addressed the next agenda item relating to the Resolution Awarding Sale of 2021 General Obligation (GO) Bonds and Authorizing Call of 2015 and 2016 GO Bonds. Squires explained that a proposal from an out of state bank not meeting the threshold or target set by the City of Waukon was received. He advised that proposals were received from Luana Savings Bank (2.01 percent interest rate) and Waukon State Bank (1.96 percent interest rate) with both meeting the City’s requirements. Following discussion with the council, the proposal from Waukon State Bank at a 1.96 percent interest rate was approved.

The council approved the Annual Urban Renewal Report for Fiscal-Year 2020-2021.

Boden and the council moved into discussion of moving the January 2022 meeting dates and establishing Christmas holiday dates for City employees. Boden discussed options available with Christmas Eve being a Friday and Christmas Day being a Saturday this year. The council opted to make no changes to the existing holiday dates for employees. Boden recommended that city council meeting dates be adjusted with New Years Day, January 1 being a Saturday in 2022 with City employees scheduled vacation time around the holiday presenting some challenges in meeting preparation for the first council meeting of the year. The council approved Boden’s recommendation to set the January 2022 council meeting dates as Monday, January 10 and Monday, January 24.

Prior to adjournment, the council moved into Closed Session: Per Iowa State Code Chapter 21.5 (1)(j) to discuss the purchase or sale of particular real estate only where premature disclosure could be reasonably 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.