City council creates CV/Chamber position

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By Shelia Tomkins

At a special meeting held Aug. 15, the Guttenberg city council, on a split vote, decided to create a new city position, Community Vitality/Chamber director.

The topic has been under consideration since the resignation of the city's Community Vitality director, Emily Yaddof, who resigned in October of last year. Following her resignation, a Community Vitality (CV) study committee was appointed to study the position and how to best structure duties and funding. The committee has given periodic updates to the council, most recently at the Aug. 8 council meeting.

At the Aug. 15 meeting, CV committee members Tim Ahlers and Jackie Lee again spoke to the council. Noting that the focus of the CV director and the Chamber director often overlap, they proposed two options: that the city give additional funding to the Chamber so that the Chamber director can  add CV duties, or  create a new city position for a CV/Chamber Director. 

The council discussed the advantages and disadvantages of hiring a city employee vs. a contracted position, considering such items as benefits, hourly wage vs. salary, oversight and fundings sources. Current Chamber director Brandie Tomkins was on hand and answered council questions.

Councilmember Michelle Geuder said she had done research and reported on how West Union handles a similar city/Chamber position by using a city employee who receives full benefits. She explained the West Union reporting and funding system, describing it as very streamlined. 

The council discussed funding for both options. For  the first option it was proposed that $25,000 come from the city to the Chamber with approximately $12,000 for salary and $13,000 for community vitality activities. For the second option, a full-time city position, an annual salary of $45,000 with full-time benefits was discussed. Funding would come from hotel/motel tax, the general fund and GermanFest funds. 

After lengthy discussion that included estimated revenue from the hotel/motel tax, the council voted to create a city position for a CV/Chamber director. The vote was 4-1, with Bahls voting nay.

Plans were made to post the job description and to have a special meeting on Aug. 29 to fill the position.

Other business

The city recently was awarded a $440,000 grant from the Iowa Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP). The money will be used for a trail connection between the north end of the levee river walk near Bussey Lake to Big Springs Park and the Mississippi River Trail. Aaron Detter of Upper  Explorerland Regional Planning Commission spoke to the council about grant administration, reimbursement procedures, local matches and the project time frame. He said questions such as sidewalk width can be addressed during the design process.  

Steve Thompson, an engineer with Veenstra & Kim, gave updates on current city projects. 

A bid from MJ Electric was accepted for upgrades and repairs to the city's electric system.

Blake Stannard was approved as a volunteer firefighter. 

Bahls asked that those receiving building permits  be made more aware of sewer locations. Updates were given on nuisance properties. Discussion was held on live streaming council meetings and pool wages.


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