City council acts on electric ordinance, sets garbage rates

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By Shelia Tomkins

The Guttenberg city council at its regular monthly meeting on Monday, Dec. 7, moved forward  on an amendment to the city's electrical ordinance, lowered residential garbage rates, purchased a truck and plow, and reviewed the city workers’ union initial proposal for the coming year.

Mayor Russ Loven presided with councilmembers Jane Parker, Dave Schlueter, Fred Schaub and Virginia Saeugling in attendance, along with City Manager Mary Willett and City Attorney Mike Schuster.

Electric Ordinance

On a split vote, the council passed the first reading of an ordinance that amends city code to allow underground electrical wiring. 

The topic has occupied council attention since September, when Irish Hound Studios requested permission to bury overhead wires to an adjoining property. Jeff Dolan of Irish Hound Studio and his attorney, Alan Heavens, were in attendance at Monday's meeting.

In October the council denied the request but directed the city attorney to draft an ordinance amendment to accommodate the request. Following discussion of the proposed amendment  at the November meeting, the council asked for a re-draft to incorporate suggested changes involving notification procedures for neighboring properties.  

Prior to the vote, Mayor Loven read a statement citing his reasons for recommending passage of the amendment. Discussion followed by the mayor, city attorney and council members on terminology regarding the point of connection, the right to connect and other concerns.

The vote was 3-1 in favor of passing the amendment, with Saeugling casting the nay vote. The ordinance will not take effect until  final passage occurs following two more affirmative considerations. 

Employee matters

The city's employee union presented its initial written proposal for the coming year, and the council reviewed it on Dec. 10. Further negotiations are scheduled.

A lengthy discussion was held on a related topic, the method of compensating for overtime hours.  Currently city employees who have overtime can take paid time off that is equal to 1.5 times the number of overtime hours. Discussion was also held on the method of calculating pay when employees are called out after hours.  

Other business

The new gabage rates for 2016 will be $17 for regular customers and $16.50 for senior citizens. The new charges are $1 lower than current fees.

The purchase of a new pick-up truck and plow were okayed at a cost of $28,300 for a Ford F350 truck and a $6,215 plow.

Discussion was held on charging a fee to reserve a shelter in the city park. Currently there is no fee. Looking at comparisons from neighboring communities, the council decided to charge a $25 reservation fee. The council also reviewed rates and closing times for renting the Marina Visitor Center, and it was the consensus to change the closing time to midnight and keep the fee the same.

The council considered a lien change request from Cindy Olsen related to a current loan from the city's Revolving Loan Fund. The request was approved pending review of Olsen's auto purchase agreement.

In connection with the city's plan to switch waste haulers from Waste Management to Kluesner Sanitation at the beginning of the coming year, the council adopted two resolutions to allow  city waste to be taken to the Dubuque landfill.

Emily Moser of Guttenberg Development & Tourism spoke to the council and received a vote of support for a Scenic Byway public art installation that will be funded by a grant. Plans call for fish sculptures to be mounted on light poles in the downtown area.  

The council okayed the purchase of a computer program that will manage receipts and also approved an update for faster service on its current computer system.

The council accepted a proposal from Krapfl for dock piers, sidewalk and riprap work at the public dock.

Jacob Regal was approved as a reserve police officer.

Monthly reports were accepted with Officer Kari Hoyheim on hand in the absence of Police Chief George Morteo.

Mayor Loven thanked Virginia Saeugling for her service on the council, and she had the honor of motioning for adjournment at thefinal regular meeting of her term. 

Consent agenda

Items approved in one motion as part of the consent agenda included awarding a six-month contract to low bidder Pronto for gas and granting pay requests totaling more than $130,000 for work completed thus far on the water project and lift station project.

The following appointments were approved:

Community Development Block Grant: James Feudner, Lorrie Meyer, Jane Parker, Steve Rausch and Mary Willett

Cable: Jean Green

Cemetery Board: Robert Livingston

Clayton County Emergency: Russ Loven and Fred Schaub

E-911 Board: Russ Loven and Fred Schaub

Recreation Board: Al Ullerich

The council okayed blacktopping the alley in block 95 in north Guttenberg. As per city policy, 100% of residents along the alley have agreed to pay for the improvement.

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