Waukon City Council discusses funding and fee matters for upcoming projects

by Joe Moses

The Waukon City Council met in regular session Monday, December 4 to address a full agenda of items including the Delta 3 Engineering Professional Service Agreement for a tennis court, a Park, Rec and Wellness Board vacancy and discussion of establishing minimum requirements for commercial tax rebates.

There was no Public Comment, which allowed the council to immediately move into Departmental Reports, with Street Superintendent Keith Burrett discussing a quote for street light replacements. Park and Rec Wellness Director Jeremy Strub discussed the 10-year anniversary of the Waukon Wellness Center and a variety of associated events that were well attended.

City Manager Dean Hilgerson provided an update on several projects, including the Department of Transportation street project, street light replacements, research into options for constructing a new Waukon Police Station building, as well as some funding and grant options relating to the new wastewater treatment facility construction project.

The Council moved into Regular Business with discussion of the Park, Rec and Wellness Board vacancy. Following Arvid Hatlan’s election to the City Council in the November election, Hatlan will be resigning from the Park, Rec and Wellness Board and Jesse Delaney will be filling that vacancy as of January 1, 2018.

Strub also discussed the next agenda item involving the professional services agreement between Delta 3 Engineering and the City of Waukon concerning the proposed tennis courts to be located adjacent to the Waukon High School property. Strub provided an overview of the funding progress for the project which includes a grant from Wellmark, a donation from Waukon RAGBRAI profits and other grant opportunities available from the United States Tennis Association which would put the current level of funding in the neighborhood of $84,000.

It was indicated the project’s cost, including the remainder of fundraising, will be accomplished strictly through donations and grants. Strub discussed construction options including asphalt and concrete and the longevity of the tennis courts being extended through proper maintenance. The City Council approved the professional services agreement with Delta 3 Engineering.

The Council reviewed and approved the Urban Revitalization Program tax abatement request from Les and Becky Lickiss of 305 Park Place Court SW.

The Council then moved into discussion of the minimum requirements for commercial tax rebates, which Hilgerson introduced as a start to setting parameters for future commercial tax rebates. Variables were discussed by the Council including investments in business infrastructure and job creation. Council member Dwight Jones proposed having the Waukon Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) Board research the matter and to provide a recommendation to the Council. Coordinator Ardie Kuhse with WEDC was in attendance and indicated that this matter will be added to WEDC’s next meeting agenda.

The Council approved December 18, 2017 as the Public Hearing date for Kevin Ashbacher – rezoning of 858 Fourth Street NW from “R-2” to “M-1”, which involves a zoning change from residential to light industrial.

The Council moved into discussion of the Fehr-Graham Engineering Professional Service Agreement for the new Wastewater Treatment Facility, with Project Engineer Lucas Elsbernd of Fehr-Graham providing an engineering and design cost estimate not to exceed $1,048,000 based on projected hours needed for this project. Hilgerson provided an estimate of $982,000 for engineering and design costs based upon his calculations and, following some discussion, recommended splitting the difference at $1,015,000, 14.5% of the projected total project cost.

Elsbernd further discussed his calculations and Fehr-Graham’s history with similar projects. Senior Project Manager Lyle TeKippe with Fehr-Graham Engineering discussed that he could not immediately authorize but would follow up regarding this negotiation and further relayed Fehr-Graham’s appreciation to the City regarding past projects. The Council tabled the matter and negotiations with Fehr-Graham will continue.

The Council briefly discussed the Piper Jaffary Municipal Advisor Agreement, tabling the matter for discussion at a later time.

City Clerk Al Lyon presented information to the Council regarding a sewer rate increase that will be necessary with the new Wastewater Treatment Facility construction project. Water and Sewer Superintendent Bob Campbell discussed water meter readings using current meters and advantages of radio or remote meter readings, which would require a meter upgrade at each residence.

Lyon discussed quarterly and monthly billing options for the fees, with council member-elect Gayle Decker suggesting a two-month billing cycle as an option. Jones recommended reaching out to other communities to find out what has worked best. The matter was tabled for further discussion at a later time.
Under Other Matters, council member Ben Rausch discussed some difficulty picking up City Council information packets at the library between Thursday afternoons and council meetings due to obligations with high school athletics during library hours. The council had previously agreed to use the library as a place for picking up this information to eliminate mailing costs. The council agreed that packets will be mailed to any council member unable to pick up an information packet during library hours due to schedule conflicts, but the library will remain the preferred pick-up point used by the council.

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