City council purchases lot for parking, awards dredging bid

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By Shelia Tomkins

At the regular monthly meeting on May 9 the Guttenberg city council moved forward on the purchase of a lot next to the municipal building, awarded a bid to remove sediment from Limbeck Pond, and okayed raises for non-union employees.

Mayor Fred Schaub led council members Mandy Ludovissy, Austin Greve, Jane Parker, Steve Bahls and Michelle Geuder through the evening's agenda. City Manager Denise Schneider was also at the council table. 

Project updates

Engineer Steve Thompson with Veenstra & Kimm Inc. gave brief updates on projects, noting that the Schiller Street project is now considered closed out. 

He said preliminary design work is being done on the Fifth Street overlay project. Archaeological work is ongoing in the water system improvement project, and surveyors are continuing work on the storm sewer extension project. 

Pond contract

A $101,200 bid from Tschiggfrie Excavating was accepted for excavation work to remove sediment from Limbeck (Horseshoe) Pond.

Employee raises

The council concurred with the mayor's recommendation and granted a 4% pay increase for all non-bargaining unit employees, effective with the coming fiscal year.

The council voted to give  a $300 monthly stipend to employees who opt out of the city's health insurance program. 

Property purchase

The council voted to purchase the vacant lot south of the municipal building from the Guttenberg Economic and Development Commisison at a cost of $15,000, using money from the Revolving Loan Fund. Plans are to use the property as a parking lot.

Budget amendment

Following a public hearing with no comments, the council okayed a budget amendment, an action commonly taken near the end of the fiscal year to adjust for revenues such as grants and fund transfers, and expenses associated with grants and other adjustments. The amendment will not affect taxes.

Tourism partnership

Darla Kelchen of Clayton County Development addressed the council with a request for a $3,000 pledge that will form part of a marketing campaign grant application. She presented  statistics and  spoke about the benefits of being a partner with the Clayton County Tourism Team. She reviewed past advertising media coverage, brochures, trade shows and other promotions. The marketing campaign is funded with money from community partnerships, county hotel/motel tax, an Upper Mississippi Gaming grant and Clayton County Development. After discussion, the council approved her pledge request. 

Other business

Brandie Tomkins, a member of the Community Vitality Advisory Board, spoke briefly on the group's initial meeting held April 26. A committee member will speak to the council in June with a proposal for the CV position.

Tomkins, who is also director of the Chamber of Commerce, received council okay to give pool punch cards as prizes for Stars and Stripes parade winners. She also discussed the Destination Iowa Grant program for Big Springs, proposing improvements to the driveway, a public restroom and a pollinator garden, in cooperation with Guttenberg Rotary Club. The council approved moving forward with the grant application. She also discussed sandwich signs on business premises that promote other businesses and it was the council's consensus to allow them. 

Diana Johnson from Upper Explorerland Regional Planning Commission addressed the council and received approval to proceed with an $85,000 CDBG-CV Daycare Assistance grant application for Ma's DayCare. 

The mayor gave updates on various nuisance properties in the community and the actions being taken by owners to comply with city mandates. The city manager talked about conversations with the city attorney and property owners. If there is no satisfactory response by property owners, the city will pursue legal action.

The council authorized the city manager to post two job openings: Electrical superintendent and marina manager. 

Steve Miller was appointed to the city recreation board.

Chad Werger spoke on behalf of residents of the 900 block of North  Fifth Lane with a request that the city take some action to improve the street surface and drainage issues.

Forrest Brown of Brown's Family of Dealerships addressed the council regarding the recent purchase of a Chevrolet Tahoe police vehicle from another dealer. He said he spoke to the police chief about the matter and apologized for any misunderstanding that had occurred, adding that he wants it to be known that his dealership also handles Chevrolet vehicles. 

John Finch received permission for temporary street closure of part of Herder Street during tuckpointing work on the Kuempel building. 

A business accelerator grant request from Blooming Branches received council approval.

Jane Staebler of the Umbrella Arts group received council approval to install an outdoor musical instrument ensemble in the park in the 600 block of South River Park Drive; she said the park board has approved the plan. 

Permission was given to Moxie's to close a portion of River Park Drive  on May 27 for music in the street. 

The city will seek design ideas from the public for the limestone pillars at the corner of Schiller Street and Highway 52. 

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