Waukon City Council approves annual financial report, hears wastewater treatment plant update

by Joe Moses

The Waukon City Council met in regular session Monday, October 16 to address a variety of matters, including the Reel Core tax rebate program, the 5K and 8K Turkey Trot event and the Annual Report for Fiscal Year Ending June 30, 2017. Mayor Duane DeWalle called the meeting to order.
During Public Comment, Coordinator Ardie Kuhse with Waukon Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) discussed the forum held October 30 for Waukon Mayor and City Council candidates, which she described as being well attended by the public. Kuhse thanked the candidates for their involvement and stated that she is an advocate for the Hotel/Motel Tax, which will benefit the City and citizens.

Kuhse discussed the downtown street lights and that she would like to see the Council establish a committee which could include Kuhse, City Manager Dean Hilgerson and other members to research options, asking that this matter be added to the next city council agenda. Kuhse also discussed the ongoing work happening for the Veterans Memorial Hospital Health Care Foundation’s Christmas Fantasy 2017 to be held this Friday through Monday, November 10-13 at the Allamakee County Fairgrounds Pavilion in Waukon, which she described as a great event that brings in a lot of people to Waukon.
Resident Jim Allison of Waukon discussed his previous suggestion to install a street light at the corner of Fourth Avenue and Fifth Street SW. The Council agreed to look further into the matter.

Under Departmental Reports, Water and Sewer Superintendent Bob Campbell discussed that preparations are being made for the winter season and that work continues on the storm sewer replacement on First Avenue NW with some water and sewer issues that have been resolved. Waukon Police Chief Phil Young discussed that the Police Department has had a couple of busy weeks and that the battery expense associated with the City’s storm sirens deserves discussion, with his recommendation to eliminate the expense and wire the sirens directly to electricity.

Street Superintendent Keith Burrett discussed that the sign replacement project involving 92 various signs throughout the town has been completed and that Christmas lights will be installed next week. Park and Rec Wellness Director Jeremy Strub discussed that the City Park has been winterized and that starting Monday, November 13 there will be ten days of celebration, Monday through Friday for two weeks, in recognition of the Wellness Center’s ten-year anniversary. Strub discussed that events will be taking place in honor of the anniversary including the November 23 “Turkey Trot” 5K and 8K.

Under the City Manager’s Report, City Manager Dean Hilgerson discussed the Union negotiations and that he attended the Walk On Waukon community group’s meeting, which, he said, he is glad to see their interest and involvement. Hilgerson discussed researching estimates for infrastructure relating to the replacement of street lights and that 32 trees adjacent to sidewalks will need to come down due to sidewalk replacement. Hilgerson also discussed funding for the wastewater treatment facility project and that the Street Department building is something the Council needs to keep on its radar with the building needing repair or replacement in the coming years.

Under Regular Business, two items were added to the City Council’s agenda, including the proposed signage at the Memory Garden at Waukon City Park which would need to be located within the City’s right of way. The Council reviewed the request and approved the proposal as presented.

The second item added to the agenda involved a sealed bid received for a Jeep vehicle previously used by the Park and Recreation Department. DeWalle opened a sealed bid and read aloud the amount of $52.50, which the Council voted to decline. The Council discussed other options, including selling the vehicle as scrap metal or donating to charity.

Hilgerson, City Attorney Jim Garrett, the Council and Plant Manager Lenny Bulman discussed the tax rebate program for Reel Core, with several options being discussed. The Council approved to proceed with the tax rebate plan, which is a five-year tax abatement agreement.

Strub presented a map to the Council illustrating the Turkey Trot route, and Young discussed the use of a squad car and lights for the portion of the event taking place on Allamakee Street. The 5K and 8K “Turkey Trot” taking place November 23 from 8:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. was approved.

The Alley South of City Hall Pay Estimate #2, which was the final project payment to River City Paving, was reviewed by the Council and approved.

Hilgerson discussed the City's Annual Financial Report for Fiscal Year Ending June 30, 2017, providing percentages of expenditures, commenting that this information can be considered as the City pursues economic development and growth and can be used for comparison with other cities. Hilgerson indicated that the breakdown was Public Safety, 11%; Public Works, 12%; Health and Social Services, 0%; Culture and Recreation, 15%; Community and Economic Development, 2%; General Government, 5%; Debt Service, 21%; Capital Projects, 20%; and Proprietary - Water and Sewer, 14%. The Council approved the Annual Financial Report.

Project Engineer Lucas Elsbernd with Fehr-Graham Engineering discussed the Waste Water Treatment Facility Plan. Elsbernd presented a map of the proposed facility and provided an overview of the different sections of the facility and their role in the water treatment process. Elsbernd discussed the financials associated with the project and various funding options. The Council approved the oxidation ditch with enhanced nutrient removal option. The engineering proposal and professional services agreement will be addressed at the next Council meeting.

Elsbernd discussed the Professional Services Agreement relating to the Inflow and Infiltration Study, which will involve the strategic placement of flow meters in the storm sewer which will produce data to analyze. The Council approved to continue with the Inflow and Infiltration Study.

The Public Works Union Contract Agreement July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2021 was discussed by City Clerk Al Lyon, who indicated that the agreed Union starting wage has been set at $14 per hour and any employees below that level will be raised to the starting wage. Other contract specifics were discussed.

The Council approved the Public Works Union Contract Agreement.

The Police Department Union Contract Agreement July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2021 was also discussed by Lyon, who indicated that the agreed Union starting wage has been set at $18.89 per hour. Other contract specifics were discussed. The Council approved the Police Department Union Contract Agreement.

Tax Increment Financing was discussed by Lyon including reports that are required for the next fiscal year. The Council approved to move forward in preparing an amendment, a financial analysis, with the sewer plant as a TIF project in an urban renewal area. The Council approved the Resolution to transfer $11,000.00 from the TIF Fund to the C-Mart/Police Facility Sub-Fund for the tearing down of the house and debris disposal at the proposed site of the new Police Station.

Hilgerson discussed the 2019 Department of Transportation (DOT) project, commenting that the DOT has been responsive to his questions and that he will forward on the Council’s questions.

Hilgerson also discussed the Iowa League of Cities Budget Workshop November 28 in Independence. Hilgerson indicated that he would like to attend the workshop, which costs $45 per registered attendee. Council member Dwight Jones recommended that newly-elected officials also attend the workshop, which he also attended and found the information beneficial. The Council approved Hilgerson and newly-elected officials to attend the workshop.

Lyon discussed the two vacancies on the Planning and Zoning Board, which is a seven-member Board that is now at five members. Lyon discussed that the absence of two members on the current Board results in not having a quorum. Jones discussed the need for a description to share on social media and that this Board should be given projects to oversee.

Hilgerson discussed the City Manager’s spending authority agenda item, recommending further discussion in establishing spending authority for the City Manager position. No action was taken at this time.

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