Council approves application for water rate increase, improvements to North Prairie Street

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A profusion of topics kept the Prairie du Chien Common Council quite busy Tuesday night, Aug. 18, during its regular bimonthly meeting.

•One of those topics involved considering a 3 percent water rate increase. The council unanimously approved applying for the increase under a Simplified Rate Class Application. More information will be available as the application process continues.

•Another topic that affects an extensive amount of the public involved plans for improvement to North Prairie Street. The asphalt surface on the street, from Cedar to Miller, is deteriorated to the point of being unsafe for motorists, pedestrians and city public works staff to do snow removal. Staff recommended that as much of the old broken surface as possible be removed and then the surface be overlayed with new hot mix asphalt. The council approved the asphalt overlay on a $9,000 budget from the 2014-2016 Capital Fund.

•Members of the community as well as the county in general will have the opportunity to dispose of household hazardous waste and other unwanted materials at the Oct. 30 Clean Sweep at the County Highway Shop in Seneca. The Crawford County Land Conservation Department requested the city contribute $1,500 to the Clean Sweep. The council approved dispersal of the funds and directed City Administrator Aaron Kramer to include similar funds in the annual budget, beginning in 2016. But the county will be asked to make a formal request for funds each year.

•Hartig Drug approached the city seeking up to $7,500 in TIF assistance to aid in the demolition and removal of two houses on their current site. This work is part of a large project to include an upgrade and modernization to their building.

The council approved the request, indicating that the funds will come from TID #4 and be paid at the completion of the proposed expansion no later than Dec. 31, 2016.

•The Godden Pit dredging project is complete and came in below the budgeted amount, according to Kramer. With that done, the council decided to approve construction of a 6-foot-tall perimeter fence with a gate on the north end. The fence, which will be located on the north and east sides of Godden Pit, will provide safety for nearby Bluff Haven/Prairie Maison. The bidding process was waived by the council due to the uniqueness of the supplier.

•Following a public hearing near the beginning of Tuesday night’s meeting, the council voted, 5-2, to support a resolution petitioning the Wisconsin Department of Transportation for airport improvement aid. Aldermen Ron Leys and Edward Hayes-Hall were opposed to the action. State and federal aid would assist in development at the municipal airport, potentially involving construction of a parallel taxiway to Runway 14/32, including lighting; renovation or possible expansion of the terminal building; construction of a building to store snow removal equipment, also involving the purchase of snow removal equipment; construction of a perimeter fence; seal coating and crack filling of the airport pavement; clearing and maintaining runway approaches and any necessary related work. In addition to approving the resolution to petition for aid, the council approved, 5-2, with Leys and Hayes-Hall opposed, the agency agreement and federal block grant owner assurances and also designated Kramer as the city’s signatory.

•The sale of two parcels of city property was also approved: one on First Street between Wells and Glenn, to Thomas Mara for $7,503; and a second on the 900 block of south First Street, to Sue Ann Tiller for $5,054.

•In a narrow vote of 4-3, with Leys, Hayes-Hall and Mike Jones opposed, the council approved an ordinance adding a state statute against illegal use of drones to the list of offenses that can be cited in the city as a municipal violation. Considerable discussion was held on the proposed ordinance. Mark Oehler addressed the council with questions on enforcement.

•With regard to the future of the Safe Routes to School program, Kramer presented a memo outlining several options moving forward. His three options included: 1) Reject the project in its entirety, net cost to city—$137,197.10; 2) Approve a revised and shortened plan—Wells Street (from Bluff View School to 22nd Street) and Campion Boulevard (from 10th Street east to the current pedestrian path installed as part of the 22nd Street project), net cost to city—$69,319.60; and 3) Approve the reduced plan but insist on the original budget with the DOT, approved in 2013, which provided for more funds to the actual construction and less to state oversight and review. Dale Klemme, of Community Development Alternatives, spoke in favor of the third option and expressed his frustration with the entire project. The council ultimately went for the third option.

•Several amendments to the 2014-2016 Capital Budget were approved, including the following actions: 1) Release the funds from the 2014 Tax Increment District #4 ($91.660.36) initially earmarked for street work outside the Marquette Road project to the cash account of TID #4; 2) Allocate $55,681.10 from the 2014-2016 Capital Projects Fund to the Marquette Road 2017 project to return that account to a zero balance; 3) Allocate $35,000 to the proposed 22nd Street tree project; 4) Allocate $9,000 to the proposed upgrade of North Prairie Street; and 5) Allocate up to $2,925 for a new high pressure washer/steam cleaner for the public works department.

•In considering items for future agendas, Alderman Kyle Kozelka asked that the city work with the Eagles Club on finding land for them to purchase, as they unsuccessfully bid on the land the city was selling.

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