Arvid Hatlan appointed to serve remainder of Waukon Mayor term through the end of this year; Council approves several other personnel matters

Reading the oath of office ... Waukon City Council member Arvid Hatlan reads the oath of office at the Monday, June 19 Waukon City Council meeting after he was appointed to fill the vacancy of Mayor of Waukon following the resignation of former mayor Pat Stone in early May of this year. Hatlan was the lone applicant for appointment to the vacant mayor position, and he will now finish out the current term of that position that expires at the end of this year. The mayor position will be on the ballot for the city election scheduled to be held in November of this year. With Hatlan now serving as Mayor of Waukon as of Tuesday, June 20, the council now has 60 days from that date to also make an appointment to fill the remainder of Hatlan’s Ward 3 City Council position, the tenure of which expires December 31, 2025. Standard photo by Joe Moses.

by Joe Moses

The Waukon City Council met in regular session Monday, June 19 to address a full agenda of matters including the appointment to fill the vacant position of the Mayor of Waukon, discussion of Ordinance Chapter 137 Driveway Regulations and approval of a hire for the Utility Billing Clerk position at Waukon City Hall. The meeting was called to order by Mayor Pro-Tem Kevin Johnson with no Public Comment being made at that time.

Under Department Reports, Police Chief Paul Wagner noted that Officer Brent Parker attended a taser instruction school this week which will allow Parker to conduct the yearly taser training and recertification for the entire department moving forward. Wagner further noted that the speed trailer has been having some issues and that he is working with the company relating to this repair.

Street Superintendent Keith Burrett provided an overview of several sections of storm sewer that may need repair or replacement. He also noted that a Street Department employee has submitted their two-weeks notice with the hiring process needing to move forward to fill that vacancy. Council member Arvid Hatlan and Burrett discussed the prioritization of specific storm sewer repairs, with Engineer Sam Ertl of Fehr Graham Engineering to view and provide recommendations relating to repairs and costs.

Water and Sewer Superintendent Jim Cooper updated the council about the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Permit draft and discharge limits in place. Cooper advised that sewer jetting has started and that a buyer may have interest in some old water meter parts. He noted that just two residences remain for the water meter upgrade and installation.

For the City Engineer Report, Ertl updated the council about reseeding that has taken place as part of the 2022 Street Improvement Project. Relating to the 4th Street NW and 8th Avenue NW Project, Ertl noted that a temporary easement has not yet been received but a verbal okay has been provided.

Ertl also updated the council about work being performed at the Family Dollar/Dollar Tree location and the Pladsen Addition. He advised that the City Parking Lot is a specific item listed later on the meeting agenda but noted that Alliant Energy has indicated that a new light pole would be necessary for a security camera installation with the existing light poles not recommended for this purpose. Alliant Energy will assume the cost of up to 50 feet of electrical conduit for that project.

City Clerk Sarah Snitker noted that an open house in honor of Utility Billing Clerk Rita Swenson’s retirement will be held at City Hall Thursday, July 6. Snitker provided an update relating to the contractor performing work at 9 and 11 Allamakee Street, advising that the foundation repair and water proofing is done on the adjacent buildings with some masonry work still remaining resulting in some wait time likely before work relating to topsoil, erosion and seeding will take place in late August of this year.

Finance Director Lana Snitker provided an overview of the May Treasurer’s Report noting revenues and transfers and a comparison of the months of April and May. For the Mayor’s Report, Johnson noted positive trends relating to use of the City Park with the downtown being busy.

City Attorney Jeff Swartz confirmed with the council that Attorney Hattie Frana, an attorney that recently joined the Swartz Law Firm, has been appointed as Assistant City Attorney. Swartz noted the removal of the agenda item relating to the First Reading of the Amendment of the Code of Ordinances by Changing Tree Planting Specifications, explaining that some additional language will be added to the Tree Planting Ordinance. Swartz addressed the removal of an item from the Consent Agenda relating to the Resolution Proposing Disposition of Interest in Real Property by the City of Waukon – Veterans Memorial Hospital Public Hearing July 10, 2023 at 6 p.m. Swartz advised that the council has received an email relating to an updated legal description for the vacation of the street included in this matter.

City Manager Gary Boden noted that he will be providing feedback on several matters in closed session later in the meeting. He advised that it is his understanding that the developer of the Family Dollar/Dollar Tree location will be putting up a cyclone fence between the store property and the Waukon Mobile Home Community towards completion of this project.

For the City Council Report, Hatlan discussed some recent vandalism in the City Park and the need for an interconnected security camera system covering various areas of the city with the Waukon Police Department and Wagner to coordinate the use of this system. Wagner noted previous discussions of this type of system, with water tower antenna placement and antenna line of sight being necessary.

The Public Hearing Amending the Fiscal-Year-Ending (FYE) 2023 Budget was opened. Boden noted a transfer into the Police Department budget to assist with a vehicle purchase and related grant application in addition to a body camera purchase. Boden added that this amendment also relates to an audit-related expense. The Public Hearing was closed. The Resolution Amending the Fiscal-Year-Ending (FYE) 2023 Budget was approved.

The Public Hearing for Vacating the Street at the Veterans Memorial Hospital Emergency Department Parking Lot and Helipad was opened with City Clerk Sarah Snitker noting that no verbal or written comments have been received. The Public Hearing was closed.

The First Reading of the Ordinance for Vacating the Street currently occupied by the Veterans Memorial Hospital Emergency Department Parking Lot, Helipad and Clinic Building was approved. The Second and Third Readings were waived with adoption being approved.

The meeting moved into discussion of a crosswalk in front of 201 Allamakee Street. Boden noted that a request was received relating to this proposed crosswalk to be located on the north side of the County Courthouse and south of Martin Funeral Home. Following discussion, the council approved the addition of this crosswalk.

The council next discussed a proposed storm sewer installation at 607 2nd Avenue SW. Boden noted that this estimated $11,000 drain could potentially alleviate or help with the water drainage issue during a major rain event. Hatlan noted communications and concerns he has received questioning why the City is considering this project on private property. Hatlan discussed some other grading and shaping options in the $2,000-$3,000 range that could alleviate this water run-off issue. Property owner Melvin Johnson provided feedback relating to the options discussed. Hatlan and council member John Lydon discussed tabling the matter to allow further research with the rest of the council in agreement to table this agenda item.

The Resolution approving detailed plans and specifications, notice of hearing, notice to bidders and form of contract for the City Parking Lot and Alley Improvements Project was next addressed. Ertl provided an overview of recommendations relating to this project and planning. Wagner noted a lack of Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant parking spaces near the Hartig Drug location in the City Parking Lot plans. Ertl advised some grade and slope issues have resulted in an ADA compliant path from handicapped parking spaces in this lot. Hatlan and Ertl further discussed options to allow handicapped parking spaces to be located closer to the Hartig Drug location. No action was taken with Ertl to add recommendations from the council to this plan.

The meeting moved into the Resolution Authorizing Signatures on Documents Relating to a USDA Rural Development Grant. Wagner noted that this grant application may assist in funding up to 35-percent of a patrol vehicle purchase and equipment contained within. He advised that the language in the application has been changed to allow a signature from the mayor, mayor pro-tem or police chief. The council approved the Resolution.

The council moved into the Final Reading of the Amendment of the Code of Ordinances Changing the Definitions, General Regulations, Operation on City Streets and Alleys, Operations on Primary and Secondary Roads, Restrictions and Violations for All-Terrain Vehicles and Off-Road Utility Vehicles. The Final Reading was approved.

The meeting moved into the First Reading of the Amendment of the Code of Ordinances by Establishing Special Speed Restrictions, Stop Signs and No Parking Regulations on 8th Avenue SW. Boden noted that per direction from the council, there will be a 35 mph speed limit the entire length of the street, no parking on either side of 8th Avenue SW, stop signs both at the intersections of 8th Avenue and 2nd Street SW and 8th Avenue SW and Rossville Road. The First Reading was approved.

The council approved the hiring of Shana Breasure as Utility Billing Clerk starting June 26, 2023 at $18.59 per hour, and $19.15 per hour effective July 1, 2023 in addition to Cobra health insurance coverage for the month of July. She will be replacing the retiring Rita Swenson.

The council approved the Resolution Amending Hours of Work for City Hall Account Clerks and Police Administrative Assistant. This change moves these positions from 35 hours weekly to 37-1/2 hours weekly.

The council moved into discussion of Ordinance Chapter 137 Driveway Regulations. Ertl and the council discussed options relating to driveway width regulations and width restrictions used by other communities based on one-, two- and three-stall garages. The council approved to change the Ordinance to reflect a restriction of 24 feet at the curb line. Boden noted that the Ordinance will need to be brought back for approval by the council following this update.

The council moved into the Mayor Pro-Tem Compensation agenda item. As Mayor Pro-Tem, Johnson noted that he will be recusing himself relating to this matter. City Clerk Snitker noted that if the Mayor Pro-Tem serves as Mayor for more than 15 days, the council will then decide the compensation level for the Mayor Pro-Tem. Snitker noted that the Mayor’s salary is $6,200 per year with Johnson serving in this role for 50 days (May 1-June 19). Snitker noted that Johnson’s salary for this time frame based upon a percentage of the Mayor’s salary would be $849.50. The council approved that salary recommendation for Johnson.

The council moved into the Appointment of Mayor, effective June 20, and the Mayor’s Oath of Office. Johnson noted the lone application received from council member Arvid Hatlan relating to this appointment, following the resignation of former mayor Pat Stone in early May of this year. The council approved Hatlan’s appointment as Mayor of Waukon with Hatlan reading aloud the oath of office.

City Clerk Snitker later explained that the council will now have to make an appointment to fill the Ward 3 position that Hatlan has held on the Waukon City Council, the remaining term of which expires December 31, 2025. The council has 60 days from the date of Hatlan’s resignation (which coincides with his assuming of the mayoral duties, effective June 20) in which to make an appointment to that newly vacated council seat or a special election will be needed.

There was no comment during the second Public Comment portion of the meeting. Prior to adjournment, the council held three closed sessions:

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 (with two properties affected).

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 for a strategy meeting regarding employee union contract negotiations - exempt from Iowa open meetings law by Iowa Code Chapter 20.17 (3).