Status of water quality improvement funding application among variety of updates heard by Waukon City Council at first meeting of new year

by Joe Moses

The Waukon City Council met in regular session Monday, January 10 to address a full agenda of items during its first meeting of the 2022 calendar year.

Mayor Pat Stone called the meeting to order with approval of the consent agenda which included several beginning of the year reorganizational matters and appointments. Council appointments included Health Officer Dr. Nicole Barbee, City Clerk Sarah Snitker, Water and Sewer Superintendent Jim Cooper, Street Superintendent Keith Burrett, Zoning Administrator Gary Boden and City Attorney Jeff Swartz. Mayor appointments included Police Chief Paul Wagner, Mayor Pro-Tem Kevin Johnson and Fire Committee members John Lydon and Kevin Johnson.

Council meetings were again set for the first and third Mondays of each month at 7 p.m. The Standard was designated as the official City newspaper. There was no Public Comment and the meeting moved into Department Reports.

Water and Sewer Superintendent Jim Cooper updated the council about sewer maintenance recommendations in anticipation of the next street project. Cooper advised that there have been some issues with the sludge press at the Wastewater Treatment Plant, with that repair to be covered under warranty.

Street Superintendent Keith Burrett and City Manager Gary Boden discussed Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidance relating to COVID-19 exposures. Burrett and Boden discussed these guidelines in terms of staffing with Street Department employees being able to social distance and isolate in vehicles if asymptomatic. Burrett also discussed complaints received relating to sidewalks that have not been cleared of snow in a timely manner and that starting Monday the Street Department will begin clearing sidewalks at property owners’ expense.

Assistant Police Chief Luke Inglett noted that a new Chevy Tahoe patrol vehicle has arrived, with an additional Chevy Tahoe is still on order. There was no update from Assistant City Attorney Kevin Stinn nor from Park, Recreation and Wellness Director Jeremy Strub.

Boden discussed continued work with Allamakee-Clayton Electric Cooperative relating to planning for fiber optic installation in downtown Waukon. Boden also provided an update relating to recent meetings with township representatives relating to ambulance services in addition to recent communications with CEO Michael Coyle of Veterans Memorial Hospital relating to this matter.

Stone provided a recommendation that residents put out garbage containers by 6 a.m. to ensure that their garbage is picked up and not missed.

The meeting moved into the next agenda item relating to the Waukon Sponsored Project/Storm Water Quality Improvements with Engineer Paige Pierce of Fehr Graham Engineering providing an update. Pierce explained that these proposed water quality improvement projects are tied to the new Wastewater Treatment Plant’s funding through the State Revolving Fund (SRF) loan. She advised that Waukon’s Water Quality Initiative (WQI) grant application has moved to the next round in that process.

Pierce noted that the WQI technical advisor has provided good marks relating to this application, which could potentially award $100,000 toward projects with Waukon’s application being one of 17 under consideration with several applications to receive funding. Various project categories were discussed including a wetlands area, permeable pavement, water retention area, anti-erosion prairie grasses, among other potential projects within the Waukon City Park and the subdivision area to the north.

Inglett provided an overview of the next agenda item relating to door license renewal quotes for the Waukon Police Station. Inglett discussed the electronic door lock system that was installed as part of the building remodel with a one-year, three-year or five-year contract being necessary for this key fob system. The council approved to move forward with the five-year contract for this service.

Capital Improvement Planning was the next matter discussed with Boden providing an overview of the City’s debt structure and projected revenues including local option sales tax (LOST). Boden also discussed planned street projects, a new Street Department garage and financing options available.

Prior to adjournment, the council moved into Closed Session for the following trio of purposes:

Closed session: Strategy meeting regarding employee union contract negotiations - exempt from Iowa open meetings law by Iowa Code Chapter 20.17 (3).

Closed Session: Per Iowa Code Section 21.5 (1)(c) to discuss strategy with counsel in matters that are presently in litigation or where litigation is imminent where its disclosure would be likely to prejudice or disadvantage the position of the governmental body in that litigation.

Closed Session: Per Iowa 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.