Council okays salaries/wages, listens to marina concerns

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By Shelia Tomkins

The Guttenberg city council at its June 12 monthly meeting approved employee raises, listened to concerns from marina lease holders, and heard updates on city projects.

Mayor Fred Schaub led the meeting, with councilmembers Austin Greve, Jane Parker, Steve Bahls and Michelle Geuder at the table; councilmember Mandy Ludovissy participated via speaker phone. City Manager Denise Schneider was also present.

Salary, wages

The council approved a resolution providing for salary and wage increases as recommended by the personnel committee. 

Three employees who receive an annual salary will receive the following compensation for the coming year: City Manager Denise Schneider $76,709; Police Chief Derek Chambers $71,484, and Community Vitality Chamber Director Brandie Tomkins $45,900.

The remaining employees saw wage increases based on various percentages with additional compensation for certifications when applicable.  

Project updates

Steve Thompson, an engineer with Veenstra & Kimm Inc., updated the council on city projects.

The Fifth Street overlay contract was awarded to Mathey Construction and a pre-construction conference is planned. Thompson described it as a "pretty quick project" once work begins.

Environmental, archaeological and historical information have been submitted to the Department of Natural Resources for Phase I. Though Phase II is not in the immediate future Thompson said it would be advisable to obtain required clearances now, and the council gave the okay to proceed. 

Thompson said land ownership issues need to be resolved in order for the  Big Springs Trail project to proceed. It will involve negotiating with the railroad, the county, private landowners, the DOT and the city.  

Electrical improvements for the flood control pump received the council's go ahead to prepare design and bidding documents.

Marina concerns

Boat owners, who pay an annual fee to the city for private use of slips at the municipal south marina, were on hand to speak to the council with concerns about activities there, an issue that first came to the attention of the council last season. "We are still having a lot of issues with kids, fishing, swimming, people down there late at night, and trash on the docks," said spokesperson  Jeff Koppes.  "Rules state 'no fishing' and they are fishing there seven days a week. Mostly it's kids, but it gets old."

Kevin Bockenstedt said that slip renters get a "lot of disrespect" from people for being "out-of-towners." There are concerns about hooks damaging covers and boats. He noted that slip renters spend dollars in the community. 

Koppes said he has been threatened by parents when he says something to kids. "It's not just once ­— it has happened more than once....The marina is for us to use and it is basically public fishing."

Mayor Schaub said he has discussed the matter with the marina renters. "Jeff and I kind of talked about a gate," he said. "I feel we owe these people." A Dubuque marina uses a gate and a gate code to enter.

While there is a sign in the leased area, "The sign is basically pointless at this point," said Bockenstedt, who also brought up the issue of liability if someone is injured while fishing or swimming there. 

Discussion continued on the current camera monitoring system, the rate for transient boaters, police enforcement, the city providing copies of the contracts to the lease holders and other matters.

After discussion it was the consensus to seek costs on gates with codes, and in the meantime lease owners were encouraged to call the police when problems arose.

In a related matter, the council denied a request from a lease holder asking for refund for May since the marina was not open due to flooding.

Riverfront lease

Ryan Husmann spoke to the council about the terms of his land lease agreement at 431 South River Park Drive, Dam Riverview Sports Bar. His current lease with the city requires that the rent be renegotiated every five years. 

Husmann, who has appeared at a previous council meeting about the matter,  spoke at length to the council asking for  a different payment structure and questioning the formula used to calculate the terms. After discussion, the council approved a resolution to proceed with the terms of the lease as originally presented.

Other business

Mayor Schaub administered the oath of office to the newest member of the police force, Nick Sylvester.

As discussed at last month's meeting, Brandie Tomkins, Community Vitality/Chamber Director, received council approval to have $780 in food truck fees be put in a fund that would give grants to new businesses, with a maximum of $500 per request.

The council approved the purchase of a main computer server replacement at a cost of $10,620 and also purchased a copy machine/printer replacement at a cost of $6,130.

The council reviewed photos of unsightly or unsafe nuisance properties that have come to the attention of the city office. The council gave the city manager the go ahead to send our courtesy notices and if no action is taken, then abatement notices.

The council passed a resolution to pursue action again a violation regarding an underage tobacco sale at a local business. 

A list of surplus equipment was approved for auction.

The fuel bid from Kwik Star was accepted for a term of three years.

A plat waiver was approved for the Karen and Robert Merrick property. 

An ordinance amendment was approved to prohibit scavenging of solid waste set out for collection by anyone who is not authorized.

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