Waukon City Council approves long-term lease of downtown plaza on split vote, Employee Policy Handbook for Non-Union Employees after discussion

by Joe Moses

The Waukon City Council met in regular session Monday, June 6 to address a full agenda of items. There was no Public Comment and the meeting moved into Department Reports with Street Superintendent Keith Burrett discussing that street maintenance continues as normal and that repair work on the street sweeper will be completed soon with the machine yet to be returned.

Water and Sewer Superintendent Jim Cooper advised that a hygienist with the State of Iowa was at the Wastewater Treatment Plant last week with certification being awarded for two years. Cooper noted that Water and Sewer Department employee Tyler Thesing has passed all three of the Grade 1 certifications, making him a certified operator. Cooper said that work is being performed in retrofitting the sludge storage area to increase storage capacity. He advised that blacktop work has finished and that one application for a summer position was received, with that applicant, Brock Hatlan, starting Tuesday, June 7.

Police Chief Paul Wagner discussed a request for assistance from the Lansing Police Department during the Monday, June 6 Dairy Days Parade. He noted that a Waukon Police Department patrol vehicle would be at that event in Lansing. Wagner also discussed work being performed by Assistant Police Chief Luke Inglett relating to background checks of officer applicant finalists. He provided an overview of applicant testing and discussed the role of the citizen panel that assists with the interview process, with those panel members including Lynn Sorensen, Waukon High School Principal Jennifer Garin, Pastor Grant VanderVelden of First Presbyterian Church, Mayor Pat Stone, City Manager Gary Boden and Waukon Fire Chief Dave Martin, in addition to the involvement of Inglett and Wagner.

Park, Recreation and Wellness Director Jeremy Strub provided an update relating to the swimming pool, which he said will have public swimming hours Monday through Saturday from 1-5 p.m., with no evening public swim time during those days and the pool not being open Sundays due to a shortage of lifeguards. Strub discussed that other recreation programs are in full swing and that Music in the Park has started with Thursday 7 p.m. concerts in the City Park.

Strub also advised that Recreation Program Director Kim Kraus has submitted her resignation with her final workday being at the end of July. He noted that the Recreation Program Director position is being advertised and that Kraus will be missed and will be difficult to replace.
City Clerk Sarah Snitker provided an update and discussed a $500 grant from Alliant Energy to be used towards the Des Moines Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI)-related expenses other than electrical. She discussed the RAGBRAI road closure previously approved with anticipated costs for detour signage likely to reach $3,000. Snitker advised that RAGBRAI representatives have recommended keeping the road open with the council adding the matter for discussion and official action at the next council meeting.

Assistant City Attorney Kevin Stinn did not have an update but indicated that he would be available for questions. City Manager Boden discussed the 2022 Street Improvement Project with the schedule for this work to be communicated to property owners. Boden said the expectation is that this project will start either next Monday or two weeks from this council meeting with construction continuing into the first week of August.

Boden also discussed upcoming Planning Commission meetings with rezoning and variance matters to be addressed. Boden advised that the Code Enforcement Committee has met for a third time and that a joint meeting between the City Council and Wellness Committee will be taking place to discuss the management configuration of the Wellness Center.

There was no report from Mayor Stone or the City Council, with the meeting then moving into the next agenda item relating to the Public Hearing Proposing a Long Term Lease of Public Property by the City regarding the Plaza. The Public Hearing was opened and closed with Snitker advising that no comments have been received.

The Public Hearing Changing Zoning District Classification from “B-2” Business to “R-3” Single Family and Two-Family Residence District for Certain Real Estate in Waukon was opened and closed with Snitker advising that no comments have been received.

The Resolution Proposing a Long Term Lease of Public Property by the City relating to the Plaza was next discussed. Council member Arvid Hatlan questioned a portion of the resolution specifying that the owner of the steakhouse restaurant, formerly the JCPenney/Tierney building location, will have control of the Plaza up to 18 hours a day. Hatlan further questioned whether these terms will close the Plaza for public use with Hatlan advising that the Plaza was designed for citizens to use. The Resolution was approved with Hatlan and council member Andy Sires both voting against the matter.

Change Order #1, Contract and Performance and Payment Bonds for Storm Water Quality Improvements Project A were approved by the council. The Contract and Performance and Payment Bonds for Storm Water Quality Improvements Project Force Main Relocation were also approved.

The Ordinance Changing Zoning District Classification from “B-2” Business to “R-3” Single Family and Two-Family Residence District for Certain Real Estate in Waukon was next discussed by the council. Boden clarified that this matter relates to the former C-Mart property and that an offer to purchase by Daryl Hansmeier has been withdrawn. Boden noted that the Planning Commission’s recommendation prior to that withdrawal was to allow business or residential use of this property with Boden adding that residential use has been previously discussed to match surrounding properties. The council approved the First Reading with the Second and Third Readings waived and adoption taking place.

The meeting moved into the approval of the Employee Policy Handbook, Salary and Wages for Non-Union Employees. Hatlan addressed several specifics within the handbook during discussions with Boden and the council. Hatlan advised that the holiday pay language relating to full-time non-exempt employees was unclear with those working during a holiday receiving double-time in addition to holiday pay. The council approved to make this correction. Hatlan also discussed the handbook language relating to the City Manager’s role in approving bereavement leave for non-family members. Hatlan noted that paid time off (PTO) would typically be used to attend non-family funerals and questioned whether the City Manager should have a role in approving or denying these bereavement requests. Hatlan’s motion to remove this portion of the handbook died for lack of a second.

A correction to the regular work week hours was discussed and approved in addition to a change clarifying that 3:30 p.m. or the end of the workday will be listed covering some departmental differences. A clarification to on-call compensation to match the pay rates previously approved April 19, 2021 was approved.

Hatlan pointed out the absence of language relating to timeline requirements for Wastewater Department certifications. Boden recommended that this should be a department specific policy. The council was in agreement not to add language relating to certifications. Following discussion, the council approved the Resolution for the Employee Policy Handbook and Salary and Wages for Non-Union Employees.

Discussion relating to the rezoning of 9th Street NW was next addressed with Boden advising that this entire area, formerly referred to as the Bresnahan property, should be zoned as “R3”. Boden recommended moving forward accordingly with the Planning Commission to review the matter in late June with adoption by the council to take place in early July. The council approved to move forward with this recommendation.

Wagner addressed the next matter relating to the Police Officer Conditional Offer of Employment to Kole Northland, starting June 21, 2022 at $27.53 per hour. Wagner clarified that the $27.53 per hour wage would be for Northland’s first six months of employment and would change to $28.72 after six months. Wagner advised that Inglett is working on the background check for this applicant. The council approved the conditional offer to hire.

Boden provided an overview of the next matter relating to the intersection of State Highway 76 and Prairie Avenue in conjunction with County construction. Boden provided a recommendation to have Allamakee County move forward with this project with the City making a contribution of approximately $18,000 toward the project cost. The council approved the recommendation.

The council moved into the discussion and request for direction of design on 4th Street NW. Engineer Sam Ertl of Fehr Graham Engineering provided an overview of options available for the design of this street. The council was supportive of widening this street with a 31-foot width being a possibility with sidewalk on the west side of the street. The council approved to have Fehr Graham move forward with that initial planning.

Senior Project Manager Lyle TeKippe of Fehr Graham Engineering discussed the Agreement for Professional Services 2022-2024. TeKippe advised that this agreement can be for a duration of one to three years and would cover small matters that need to be addressed periodically by Fehr Graham for the City of Waukon. The council approved the agreement. Hatlan provided a recommendation to TeKippe that contractors will need to have a designated crossing area over sidewalks to prevent sinking and damage.

Discussion on Insurance Policy Deductible and Premium Amounts was the next agenda item addressed by the council. Boden provided a recommendation to raise the deductible on property insurance based upon information provided by insurance provider Jim Bieber. Boden noted that raising this deductible from $1,000 to $10,000 will lower the insurance premium by $20,000. Following discussion, the council approved moving the deductible to $10,000.

Discussion of a Street Department Truck Purchase was addressed by Boden, who provided an overview of financing options for the purchase. He said that payment would not take place until delivery in August. The council approved moving forward with the purchase through Truck Country.

Prior to adjournment, the council moved into 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.