City council eyes employee sharing, new garbage contract

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By Shelia Tomkins

At its first meeting of the new year on Jan. 4, the Guttenberg city council signed an agreement to share a school employee, reviewed the terms of its garbage contract  and moved forward on  a change to the city's electric ordinance.

Mayor Russ Loven presided with councilmembers Steve Friedlein, Jane Parker, Dave Schlueter, Fred Schaub and newly-elected councilman Austin Greve in attendance, along with City Manager Mary Willett and City Attorney Mike Schuster.

Garbage fees

The council took no action on a resolution relating to garbage fees charged to senior accounts, defined as households where 50% or more of the inhabitants are age 65 or older. Senior households currently receive a 50-cent per month discount. Kluesner Sanitation of Farley took over collection services here the first of the year, and has distributed new totes to customers city-wide. Senior households received 35-gal. totes with the option of ordering a larger tote.  

The council took no action to change the senior rate based on tote size. Seniors will receive the discount rate no matter what size tote they use. Totes are available in 35, 65 and 95-gallon sizes.

Randy Kramer of Kluesner Sanitation was on hand to review a draft of the contract prepared by the city attorney. The council will consider the final version of the contract at an upcoming budget workshop. 

Kramer said that in addition to twice-yearly collections of items such as appliances, electronics, tires, batteries and furniture,  city residents could contact the company any time throughout the year to arrange for pick up, and the customer would be billed directly. Kramer also noted that glass is not accepted as a recyclable and should be placed with regular trash. 

Employee sharing

Upon the mayor's recommendation, the council approved a 28E agreement with Clayton Ridge Community School District as a means to help fill the vacancy created by the recent death of Julie Zittergruen, long-time assistant city manager. Iowa Code 28E allows state and local governments to share services and facilities. The plan offers a financial incentive to the school for participation in such an agreement.

The plan proposes that David Schlueter, business manager at Clayton Ridge School, would be hired by the city on a part-time basis, approximately one day a week, to fill a new role handling city finances. 

Schlueter is currently a member of the city council. The mayor said  that the downside of the arrangement is that Schlueter would need to resign his city council position.  Schlueter has two years left in his council term. 

The council approved the agreement with Schlueter abstaining.

Kwik Trip zoning request

Acting on a recommendation from the city Planning and Zoning board, the council approved a zoning request from Kwik  Trip, Inc., to change two parcels of land from M-1 (manufacturing) to C-1 (commercial). The property is the former site of Guttenberg Industries, Inc. and will be the site of a new Kwik Trip facility.  Wade McDermott of Kwik Trip was on hand to present the request.

Electric Ordinance

On a 4-1 vote, the council passed the second reading of a redrafted ordinance that amends city code to allow underground electrical wiring. Council member Steve Friedlein cast the dissenting vote. The ordinance will not take effect until the council approves its third reading and  final passage. The ordinance relates to a request from Irish Hound Studios that has been in front of the council numerous times last year.

New Fire Chief

In consent agenda action, Jim Cunningham was approved as Fire Chief for 2016, succeeding Chad Esmann. Cunningham previously served a one-year term as chief several years ago.

Other business

The council okayed new signs for the Great River Road through the community. The route remains unchanged.

Due to his election to the city council, the council accepted Austin Greve's resignation from the park board, and issued a notice of intent to fill the seat by appointment. Greve abstained from that vote and also from a resolution that was passed approving reassignment of the mortgage on his house, a property that the city has an interest in following a grant project.

Nick Chase and Ian Schultz were approved as members of the Guttenberg Fire Department.

The council made plans for budget work sessions as they plan for spending in the coming fiscal year. The new budget needs to be filed with the state in March, following a public hearing.

Police Chief George Morteo gave his monthly report to the council.  For the monthly marina report, Chief Morteo noted that emergency personnel responded to a call about two suspicious suitcases left at the marina, but the suitcases proved to be harmless. The city manager noted as part of her report that there is an upcoming state audit scheduled for Guttenberg. Jim Cunningham gave the fire department report and noted that there have been numerous recalls on the new fire truck. 

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