Waukon City Council discusses financing and other details for wastewater treatment facility, numerous other City projects at special work session and regular session

by Joe Moses

The Waukon City Council met twice within a week with a special work session Wednesday, September 13 and a regular session Monday, September 18 to address a variety of matters. Coverage of both meetings is included below.

Mayor Duane DeWalle called the September 13 work session to order with Travis Squires, Managing Director in the Public Finance Group of Piper Jaffray, an investment and asset management firm, conducting an hour-long presentation detailing the funding options that could be utilized by Waukon in financing the construction of a new wastewater treatment facility at a preliminary estimated cost of $8.6 million. The presentation focused on financing options including sewer revenue bonds, general obligation bonds, a combination of these two types of bonds and other alternate revenues.

The Council moved into discussion of the Fourth Street SE and Seventh Avenue SE sidewalk with City Manager Dean Hilgerson advising that a survey of 47 property owners adjacent to these streets had been mailed less than a week earlier, with 13 responses received. Hilgerson indicated that September 29 was set as the survey deadline to allow adequate time for respondents to answer and return by mail. The Council agreed to add this item to the October 16 meeting agenda to discuss the survey results, as well as recommendations from the downtown parking committee.

The Council discussed the 2018-2019 potential street projects, with Senior Project Manager Lyle TeKippe of Fehr-Graham Engineering providing a brief overview of potential projects. Hilgerson discussed recent communications with the Iowa Department of Transportation (IDOT) where it is his understanding that the 2019 IDOT resurfacing and sidewalk project may not result in road closures but be reduced to flagged, one-lane traffic, which eliminates some of the urgency of doing a major street project. By eliminating the need for a detour, Hilgerson suggested some of the other repaving could be delayed.

Hilgerson suggested that with the IDOT street and sidewalk project, it may be advisable to take care of the downtown street lighting issues in conjunction with the 2019 IDOT street project and that the IDOT, the City and sidewalk contractors will be part of an upcoming field review. Hilgerson also discussed the cost of overlay versus repaving and the lifespan of each option.

The Council moved into discussion of the downtown street lighting, with Hilgerson advising that there is no update at this time other than that the City is waiting to make plans for the street light repairs to coincide with the 2019 IDOT resurfacing and sidewalk project.

Downtown streetside parking was discussed by the Council. Hilgerson advised that within one and a half blocks of the downtown, there are 107 streetside parking spots and 147 parking spots in the public lots for a total of 254 parking spots available. Hilgerson discussed various options regarding the current two-hour parking ordinance and that Police Chief Phil Young has advised that most of the parking tickets issued have been to out-of-town visitors. Hilgerson will be researching what other communities have done regarding this matter and said he hopes to bring a recommendation from the downtown parking committee back to the Council. The Council discussed feedback received from a business owner that had concerns that two hours was not sufficient for their business customers.

The Waukon City Council met in regular session Monday, September 18 with Mayor Duane DeWalle calling the meeting to order with approval of the current agenda and minutes of September 5 and 13. The Public Hearing for the Disposition of Real Property regarding Lot 6 of the West Side Development was opened and closed without written or verbal comment.

During Public Comment, Coordinator Ardie Kuhse with Waukon Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) addressed the Council with plans for a meet and greet event in honor of new Waukon City Manager Dean Hilgerson as a way to introduce him to Waukon residents. Kuhse suggested October 2 from 5-6:30 p.m. at City Hall prior to the next City Council meeting, with the Council in agreement.

Under Departmental Reports, Water and Sewer Superintendent Bob Campbell discussed the former C-Mart lot, proposed site of the new Waukon Police Station, recommending that a water line needs to be added. Waukon Police Chief Phil Young advised that the house on the former C-Mart lot will likely be taken down Wednesday of this week with some materials being donated to Habitat for Humanity.

Street Superintendent Keith Burrett discussed that blacktop repairs have been completed. Park, Recreation and Wellness Director Jeremy Strub advised that flag football, kickball and volleyball have begun and that use of the Wellness Center has picked up. City Manager Dean Hilgerson discussed that the downtown parking committee will be meeting Tuesday, September 19 and that the Iowa Department of Transportation (IDOT) field review will take place the first week of October to make an evaluation for the 2019 street project.

The Council moved into Regular Business, with Robert Regan discussing a utility account bill of $1,201.97 for a rental property at 108 Second Avenue NW in Waukon. Regan explained that he recently became aware of an issue at his rental property that caused a considerable amount of water to be lost. Regan requested that penalties be forgiven and that a payment plan be allowed.

Campbell advised that the residence being discussed along with another and the current Police Station building were under the same ownership in the 1970s and are on the same water line, a situation not acceptable under current standards, and that a shut-off valve in the front yard might be an option. Council member Steve Wiedner advised that as a property owner, Regan may want to make it a monthly practice to read the water meter to catch any spikes indicating a problem. The Council approved to waive penalties and allow a three-month payment plan.

The six-foot variance request for a garage addition by Carl and Kelly Wille at 205 First Street NE was discussed, with City Clerk Allen Lyon advising that the Board of Adjustment has approved. Following review, the City Council approved the request. The one-foot variance request for a garage addition by Dennis DeBuhr at 537 Fourth Street NE was also reviewed and approved by the Council.

The River City Paving Pay Estimate #2 – $2,733.92 Final – 12th Street NW and Park Place Court was approved for work completed using hot-mix asphalt (HMA). The Pay Estimate #1 of $7,125.00 for Engineering & Construction Innovations Inc. of Oakdale, MN for the 2017 Trenchless Storm Sewer Project was also approved.

The request for a change order on the 2017 Trenchless Storm Sewer Project was discussed at length and tabled for further discussion later in the meeting. The Council revisited the matter before adjournment, opting to accept the additional cost for a more permanent result using the spin cast fiber-mesh lining with a cement base to repair a section of metal storm sewer that has suffered corrosion damage.

The contract, performance and payment bonds for the First Avenue NW and Second Street NW Storm Sewer Improvements Project were approved. Approval was also given to the Supplemental West Side Development Agreement between the City and WEDC, which allows the sale of lots and the construction of homes by the Allamakee Community School District’s home construction program. The Resolution approving and directing the conveyance of interest in real property regarding Lot 6 of the West Side Development was approved, as was Pat Stone’s request to hang a roof gutter over City property at 12 Allamakee Street.

The Council moved on to discussion of the 2018-2019 Street Project, with Hilgerson explaining the option to suspend engineering on First Avenue with increased use of this street not likely as a detour for the 2019 IDOT street project. The Council approved the suspension of engineering on First Avenue.
Hilgerson discussed the Downtown Street Lighting agenda item and advised that, depending on the field review by the IDOT, 2018 may be the time to address the problems with the street lights prior to the 2019 IDOT street project. The Council tabled the matter and will be adding it to the October 16 meeting agenda.

The Council discussed the Waste Water Treatment Facility, with Hilgerson advising that Project Engineer Lucas Elsbernd with Fehr-Graham Engineering will be doing the anti-degradation alternative analysis which will be submitted for review to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) as part of the regulations ensuring water quality. Hilgerson discussed that following this review, the facility plan will then be submitted in application for the State Revolving Fund (SRF) and other funding alternatives and grants.

Campbell discussed the Water and Sewer Department Pick-up, with the low bid coming in at $25,880 for a Dodge pick-up. Campbell advised that he would like to have a wide-out blade at $6,650 added to another pick-up used by the Water and Sewer Department. The Council approved to move forward with these equipment purchases that have been budgeted.

The Council approved to waive the building permit fee for the school project house. The Council also discussed the Waukon Area Fire Protection District $50,000 payment for the City’s share of the new fire tanker truck. The Council approved the payment.

Burrett discussed the Storm Sewer between Rossville Road and West Street, indicating that Kelly Concrete will potentially repair all 28 seams at $185 per seam, totaling $5,180 for the project, and only charge for the seams that require repair. Burrett and TeKippe described the repairs as a fabric wrap covered by cement over the  seams that have split and that the number requiring repair will not be known until the storm sewer is uncovered. The Council approved the project.

Burrett also discussed the Street Department bucket truck repairs and options available. The Council approved the repair work by Crossroads Mobile Maintenance at $5,867.54. The Street Department two-way radios for vehicles was discussed by Burrett, who advised that it is necessary equipment that is preferable to employees using cell phones, which could be a safety concern. The Council approved the purchase.

The Council discussed several delinquent utility accounts and approved to remove them from the City’s books. As routine accounting matters, agenda items 22-27 are resolutions that were reviewed and combined into one vote.  The Internal Advance from the TIF Fund to the Administrative Costs Subfund of $420.00, the transfer of $17,000.00 from the General Fund (property taxes) to the Library Fund for Library expenses, the transfer of $36,232.00 from the 2015 Capital Improvements Fund to the Capital Equipment (Street) Fund, the transfer of $30,843.03 from the 2015 Capital Improvements Fund to the Capital Equipment (Police) Fund, the transfer of $45,000.00 from the C-Mart/Police Facility Sub-fund from TIF proceeds received to the General Fund for internal loan payment, and the transfer of $29,000.00 from the Franchise Fund to the Capital Fire Improvement Fund were all approved.

Under Other Matters, Council member Dwight Jones discussed a recent e-mail from Aveka General Manager John Anderson. Jones read aloud portions of the e-mail detailing that soil sample testing has delayed the foundation for the smokestack extension at the facility, which Anderson hopes to have in place in late October or early November, and that the wall is up to help dryer noise.

Kevin Welsh, a homeowner living 245 feet to the south of the Aveka facility’s smokestack, questioned the Council about the 25-decibel level that had previously been set as a goal for Aveka and commented that even 45 decibels would be great. Welsh asked about the timeline and repercussions being used for Aveka’s noise and odor levels and commented that they are good with public relations, citing the recent article about Aveka in The Standard, but are showing no results.

Jones discussed that the 25-decibel level was not feasible. Welsh indicated that he has shown a one- to two-decibel decrease, which he feels is not acceptable. Jones said that the odor issues are continuing and that Lyon will e-mail results of the decibel readings and make comparisons. Lyon also discussed the recent internet outage at City Hall and concerns relating to routers and cables that may need to be upgraded.

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