City council approves budget

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By Shelia Tomkins

The city budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2015,  was approved at the March 2 meeting of the Guttenberg city council. 

For the coming fiscal year, revenues are estimated at $23,065,834 and expenditures at $23,124,206. As per state requirements, the city budget includes the budget for Guttenberg Municipal Hospital. The hospital portion makes up almost 70% of the city budget for the coming fiscal year. The hospital budget predicts revenues and expenditures at $16,443,000 each. The estimated total tax levy per $1,000 valuation on regular property is 15.11220, reflecting a minor decrease from this year's levy of 15.11400. 

Mayor Russ Loven led councilmembers Steve Friedlein, Jane Parker, Dave Schlueter, Fred Schaub and Virginia Saeugling through the agenda. City Manager Mary Willett and City Attorney Michael Schuster were also present.

Water rate increase

The council approved the second reading of an ordinance that will increase water, sewer and storm sewer rates. A recent audit report recommended an increase in customer water and sewer rates in order to cover operating costs. Proposed is a base rate increase of $1 for water, $2 for sewer and $.50 for storm sewer. The ordinance also provides for a minimum monthly billing even if service is disconnected. 

City manager salary increase

City Manager Mary Willett has been on the job for a year now, and in accordance with her employment agreement a one-year review was recently completed. "We have had some really big challenges, and she's stepped up to the plate," said the Mayor of her evaluation. He noted that major city issues in the past year included comprehensive planning, the change of electricity providers, strategic planning, Acre Street renovation, frozen water pipes, municipal hospital plans, the Garber Road bridge, major capital expenditures, levee accreditation, the RAGBRAI visit last summer, Canadian Pacific Railroad concerns, as well as financing and budgeting. 

The council voted to give Willett a $2,000 increase, bringing her salary to $58,000,  as well as add another week's vacation time. 

Other business

A request for street closure by the River Park Cruisers was tabled until next month's meeting. Members of the group met with city officials prior to Monday night's meeting. 

GD&T Director Emily Moser received council approval to close the same streets as in 2014 for this year's Germanfest celebration.

Discussion was held on adopting a policy for use of body cameras by the police department. The council was asked for any input. A draft policy will be prepared for consideration and legal review.

Fire Chief Chad Esmann and Police Chief George Morteo were present to answer any questions about their monthly reports. 

City Manager Willett gave a report on her activities of the previous month, including closing of the general obligation loan to be used for settlements and equipment; meetings with an energy company and Allamakee-Clayton REC; budget and finance meetings; tourism promotions; GEIDC and GD&T updates; swimming pool hiring; attendance at city board meetings; grant applications; and discussions with Dairyland Power and the Army Corps of Engineers.

Consent agenda

Routine items approved as part of the consent agenda included a donation to the Clayton Ridge After-Prom party and a pool pass donation for a Kids Kampus raffle.

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