No contract offer for city manager following closed council session

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By Shelia Tomkins

The Guttenberg city council, meeting in regular session on June 6, voted 3-2 against offering a three month contract to City Manager Mary Willett, whose current contract expires June 30. Willett has served as city manager since January 2014.

Prior to the vote, the council entered into closed session, citing a section of the Iowa Code that allows for doing so when evaluating the professional competency of an employee, "when necessary to prevent needless and irreparable injury to that individual’s reputation and that individual requests a closed session."

After coming out of closed session, a motion was made by Steve Friedlein to offer Willett a three-month contract with another evaluation at that time. The motion  failed on a split vote, with council members Austin Greve, Jane Parker and Fred Schaub voting against and Steve Friedlein and Virginia Saeugling voting in favor.  (For comments from Mayor Russ Loven on the status of the city manager's position following the council's action, see page 3.) 

Two other contracts up for renewal that evening, that of Public Works Director Dan Walke and Police Chief George Morteo, were unanimously approved by the council. 

Other business

Resident Tim Schmitt was on hand as the  council considered his tabled request to open each meeting with prayer. Schmitt said he had talked to local pastors, and they were willing to participate. Mayor Loven said he thought advice from legal counsel would be needed prior to accommodating any such request, and added that the council was considering opening each meeting with the Pledge of Allegiance. "We will consider the pledge in the future," said the mayor. The council took no action on Schmitt's request.

Rachelle Howe of Upper Explorerland Regional Planning Commission spoke to the council during a public hearing on the status of the city's water main replacement project, which she said is now 99% complete. She noted that the public hearing was part of the funding requirements, and she gave a summary of expenditures and  progress to date.

Logan Peterson received council approval for his proposed Eagle Scout project. He explained his plans for improving the trails at the city-owned Big Springs property in north Guttenberg. The project would involve improving and widening more than 300 yards of walkways, removing weeds, replacing steps and other improvements. 

The council okayed a request from Mike Hefel for a change in his lease agreement to allow for a stairway from the park in the 500 block of South River Park Drive to his building located on the shoreline below.

The seal coating project list for this year was approved and a bid accepted from Blacktop Service Co. of Humboldt. 

After discussion and questions from council member Virginia Saeugling about proposed figures, a new fee schedule with corrections was approved by the council for the coming fiscal year, covering more than 40 categories of municipal service fees, facility use, licensing, utility costs, etc.  

The council gave the nod to a new pickup for the city water department and accepted the low bid of $27,780 from Brown's Sales and Leasing for a Chevrolet Silverado extended cab truck.  

A public hearing was set for June 27 at 6 p.m. on a second budget amendment and on the issuance of general obligation bonds in an amount not to exceed $171,400 for water main improvements.

The council approved a change in the assignment of a lease agreement for the building at 531 South River Park Drive, from Rose Kann to William and Hillary Kann. 

Marina manager Jim Zerbe and Police Chief Morteo were present to give their monthly reports to the council. 

Howard Hubbell was appointed to the Guttenberg Economic and Industrial Development Commission; Dave Tschantz was appointed to the Riverfront Advisory Board and James Schlueter was appointed to the library board.

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