Council okays library position, acts on food truck ordinance

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By Shelia Tomkins

The Guttenberg city council at its regular monthly meeting on  Monday, Dec. 10, approved a full-time director's position for the library, moved forward on the mobile food vendor ordinance, and took the first step in an ordinance that would address unsightly properties.

Mayor Bill Frommelt led councilmembers Jane Parker, Virginia Saeugling, Fred Schaub, Austin Greve and Mick Pierce through the evening’s agenda. Also on hand were City Manager Denise Schneider and City Attorney Michael Schuster.

Full-time library director

Jim Schlueter, president of the Guttenberg Public Library board, asked the council to approve hiring a full-time salaried library director. He told the board that the current director, Sandy Barron, who is classified as part-time hourly, plans to retire at the end of January. The board has advertised for a new director, and Schlueter said six applicant interviews were scheduled for the coming week.

Schlueter reviewed library activities during the past 20 years and future plans. "The library has adapted to the times, but now it takes more time for these services," he said.

In response to questioning, Schlueter said the board has not yet decided on a yearly salary for a full-time director. The  city manager noted that full-time status would include benefits. Schlueter said he believed the salary increase could be handled without amending the library budget for the current fiscal year. He also answered questions about the number of staff on hand during working hours. 

Following discussion, the council unanimously approved making the position full-time.

Mobile food vendors

The council approved the first reading of a mobile vendor ordinance after discussion on the matter for several months. 

The ordinance sets rules and regulations for food trucks, but does not address fees. 

Following final passage of the ordinance, fees would be set by resolution. Proposed fees are: $50 per day, $1,000 for six months, $1,200 for one year for mobile food trucks. Another fee schedule for pushcarts allows permits at $10 per day, $60 for a month and $200 for a year. 

The second reading of the ordinance is scheduled for the January council meeting. The council must pass three readings and give final approval before the ordinance takes effect.

Union employees 

The council approved an addendum to the current collective bargaining agreement for city union employees. The resolution provides for the same health insurance coverage, a $1 hourly wage increase for the "electrical assistant/public works" position and $1 increase for police officer and police sergeant. There will be a $.45 hourly wage increase for all other "titles" effective July 1 of next year. 

New policy for utility customers

Through the years, the city has suffered financial losses from utility customers who have skipped town without paying their bill. The  current total estimate of deadbeat accounts stands at approximately $100,000. 

In an effort to address the problem in the future, the council approved a resolution requiring that new customers make a utility deposit equivalent to three months of services.  Also, after the first of the year, the city plans to hold landlords responsible when tenants fail to pay.

 Unsightly properties

The council approved the first reading of an ordinance that will facilitate enforcement of unsightly properties in the community. The new ordinance will address issues not covered by the city's nuisance ordinance. 

"They don't fall into the dangerous category but look pretty sad," said the mayor of the properties currently in question. The second reading of the ordinance is scheduled for the January meeting. 

The ordinance sets standards for roof and exterior building maintenance as well as property maintenance. Out buildings must conform to the same standards. Property owners would not be allowed to store certain items in the front yard, and limits are set on side and back yard storage. 

Property requests

The council adopted a resolution to vacate and dispose of a city alley pursuant to a request made by Gary Stirn of Twin Towers, Inc. The matter had been considered at previous meetings. An offer of $2,000 made for the property by Twin Towers will be acted on at the January meeting. In a related item, the council accepted an offer of $600 from Doug and Cindy Davey for a portion of the same alley.  

Following up on a request made by Sharon Stade at the November meeting, the council approved a resolution and ordinance for a quit claim deed  for a portion of a city alley on property located at the corner of Highway 52 and Herder Street. The action will clear up the title for a building that sits on an alley there.

Appointments

The council approved the following appointments:

Community Development Block Grant: Mary Lee Moser, Steve Rausch and Denise Schneider

Cemetery Board: Steve Bahls

Clayton County Emergency Management Committee and E-911: Fred Schaub and Bill Frommelt

Historic Preservation: Christopher Schoen

Park Board: Terry Moser

Recreation Board: Al Ullerich.

Other business

Mary Abbott of IIW Engineers explained the need for additional engineering fees on the Garber Road bridge project due to weather-related issues. The council approved the addition to IIW's contract.

The council accepted an $11,500 proposal from Fehr Graham Engineers to study the city’s sanitary sewer system. The information will be used when applying for grants for sewer improvements.

The council approved an interconnection agreement with Alliant Energy and Interstate Power prior to the city’s switch over in January to RPG as the community’s electrical power provider. 

Council approval was given to replace the air conditioning unit that serves the police department.

Pay requests were approved for the Garber Road bridge project to IIW Engineers ($3,624) and K Construction ($2,905); and to Portzen Construction for the pool project ($435,054).

* * *

The council went into closed session at the end of the meeting to discuss the acquisition of a real estate parcel. Following the return to open session, the council authorized the mayor to proceed as discussed in closed session. 

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