Lengthy monthly meeting for Guttenberg city council

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By Shelia Tomkins

The Guttenberg city council, meeting in regular session on Feb. 14, covered a variety of topics in a session that lasted nearly four hours. Mayor Fred Schaub led council members Jane Parker, Steve Bahls, Michelle Geuder, Austin Greve and Mandy Ludovissy through the evening's agenda. City Manager Denise Schneider was also at the council table. 

Engineer report

Steve Thompson, an engineer with Veenstra & Kimm, gave updates on city projects. He recommended that the final acceptance of the Schiller Street project be contingent on the completion of a few small items. He said that the city's grant application for water system improvements is being resubmitted by Upper Explorerland Regional Planning Commission. Preliminary design work has started on the storm sewer extension project. The council decided to have Veenstra & Kim  begin design work on the overlay project for North Fifth Street, a project that the city received funding for in 2018. The decision to proceed came after discussion on the costs of an overlay versus a full reconstruction, the latter of which would double the cost according to Thompson. The time line calls for bidding the project this year and beginning work next year.

Contractor Jeff Friedlein was asked to speak to the council regarding ideas on dredging Limbeck Pond. The city received a grant for the project but the bid estimates far exceeded the grant money. Discussion was held on the size of the area, dredging versus using a long-reach excavator, staging and disposal concerns, costs and at what point the grant would have to be returned if it was not used. Discussion was held on having a meeting at the site. The city manager will have further discussion with the DNR on grant requirements.

Nuisance properties

Last month the council decided to have nuisance abatement notices sent to specified properties. Matt and Brad Herman, who own part of the property in the mobile home park along Highway 52 south of Casey's spoke to the council about the notice they received, asking for more specific guidelines on what needs to be done and for an extension on the 60-day compliance timeline. They explained that there are multiple owners of land in that mobile home park and that they only own a portion of it. They said they can't make improvements to the homes parked there because they don't own the homes, but wanted to give the owners a reasonable amount of time to fix them up. Another audience member who owns property there also asked for specifics on what needs to be done to satisfy the nuisance definition. They all indicated they are willing to do something if the city tells them what needs to be done. The city manager asked the council to look at the area prior to the next meeting, and the council voted to give an additional 90-day extension on compliance.  

Resident Tim Schmitt spoke to the council on behalf of his father, a local property owner who resides out of state, who also received a nuisance notice regarding property near Acre Street. He sought guidelines on repairing or rebuilding buildings on the property.

Community Vitality position

The city's Community Vitality position is open following the resignation of Emily Yaddof. The CV committee has interviewed applicants, but the council took no action on the committee's recommendation. After discussion about having a contract vs. employee position,as well as the cost and funding sources for the position, the council decided to have a work session with the CV committee prior to the next monthly meeting.  

Communications equipment

Sam Rumph, Clayton County E911 Coordinator, spoke to the council about replacing the current building on Acre Street that houses local communication equipment. At a previous meeting the council agreed to share the cost of repairing the building. Rumph told the council that a consulting company has determined that the building is not worth salvaging and proposed replacing it with a climate-controlled cabinet. The council moved to share the expense of the cabinet at a cost not to exceed $7,000.    

E-scooters

A new local business, Xplore Guttenberg LLC, plans to offer E-scooters to the community. Owners Kylie and Jennifer Bolsinger spoke to the council and explained how visitors can access the scooters by using an app. They sought council input on parking the scooters on city property such as at the marina, and the council was agreeable to the idea. They will return to next month's meeting with a written agreement for council consideration. 

TIF agreement

City council members approved a request from Kathryn Klaes of a TIF rebate agreement for the Guttenberg Brewery. The agreement provides for 40% of  property taxes above the base amount be rebated for 10 years up to a maximum of $3,500 per year. Council members attended  a special meeting earlier this month to learn about TIF districts and other development tools. 

Other business

Rich Kann, representing BAR Inc., spoke to the council about the sanitary sewer extension for their proposed campground on North Fifth Street, and seeking ways the city could help with development costs since the sewer installation bid they received was higher than anticipated. The city manager will check with the Iowa DNR to see if smaller lines and fewer manholes are feasible in order to reduce the costs. Further discussion about the matter will be held at a special council workshop. 

No comments were received a public hearing on the maximum levy for the upcoming fiscal year budget; and the council set March 14 at 6 p.m. for a public hearing on the final budget. 

The council approved the collective bargaining agreement with union employees. 

In response to a request at last month's meeting from residents along Miner's Creek Road, costs were obtained for burying underground power lines to reduce possible power outages during storms. The council reviewed the

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