City council proceeds with pool project, sets budget hearing

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By Shelia Tomkins

The Guttenberg city council at its regular monthly meeting on April 9 moved forward on the pool project, set a hearing date to amend the budget and approved the first reading of an ordinance change that will reduce the cost of a golf cart permit.

Mayor Bill Frommelt led councilmembers Mick Pierce, Austin Greve, Fred Schaub, and Virginia Saeugling through the evening's agenda; also on hand were city manager Denise Schneider and city attorney Michael Schuster.

Pool project

The council moved forward on plans to renovate the Guttenberg swimming pool following the successful bond vote in March. 

Roger Schamberger from Burbach Aquatics, the consulting firm working with the local Wave of the Future committee, was present to answer any questions prior to council's okay to begin soil borings and survey work. 

The council also approved a grant submission to Enhance Iowa for help to fund the project. (See a project update in last week's issue of The Press.)

Budget amendment

The council set a public hearing for the May 14 regular city council meeting to amend the city budget to reflect changes needed to refund $24,000 in Community Development Block Grant funds and to "clean up old accounts," according to the city manager. 

Golf cart fees

The council reconsidered its current fee of $100 for golf cart permits and approved the first reading of an ordinance amendment to lower the fee to $25. Several golf cart permit holders who had advocated in the past for a lower fee were in attendance at the meeting. The city manager noted that nearby communities charge permit fees in the $25-$30 range. The first reading of the ordinance amendment passed on a 3-1 vote with councilmember Saeugling voting in dissent. The city attorney noted in order to waive the second and third readings and give final approval, a "super majority" vote is required by state code. In the absence of a full council at Monday night's meeting, the matter will be considered at next month's meeting.

Park board recommendations

The council tabled two recommendations from the Guttenberg park board, one regarding the removal and sale of trees in the Big Springs area, and the other seeking to remove trash receptacles from the park north of the school, with the exception of three receptacles designated for dog waste. Mayor Frommelt asked for the recommendations to be tabled pending a visit to the Big Springs site, and also asked that a park board member meet with the council to explain the request for removing trash receptacles. 

Downtown improvements

MJ Smith gave a report on behalf of the Umbrella Arts project to beautify the street nodes at intersections in the downtown area. Smith said UA members have prepared a plan and applied for grant funding. Plans call for custom-built stack planters on 11 nodes, to be planted by volunteers. 

In January, the council gave its approval to the UA committee to proceed with plans and to report back to the council in April.  

Increase in late fees

Utility customers who are late with monthly payments may see an increase in fees attached to overdue accounts. Currently, late fees are 1.5% of all utility services. The council approved the first reading of an ordinance change that would leave the electrical late fee at 1.5% as per state code, but raise others to 10%. The matter will be considered again at the May council meeting.

Other business

The council approved six measures that update job titles, descriptions and wages. 

Following up on discussion at a previous council meeting, the council okayed the installation of a pole light near the intersection of Acre Street and Royal Oaks. 

The council accepted a proposal from Visu-Sewer to make improvements to 11 manholes at an estimated cost of $14,625.

The fee for requesting a special council meeting will double from $125 to $250 following unanimous council action. The city manager said that the current fee doesn't cover council compensation or publication costs. 

The city manager reported that the firm hired to service the municipal building elevator, Schindler Elevaor Corp.,  didn't provide preventive maintenance and testing in 2017. The firm came this spring and fixed a problem. The council voted to offer Schindler a one-year, rather than five-year, contract renewal.

After receiving bids for mowing city recreation areas, the council awarded the job to the low bidder, H&H Lawncare.

Upper Explorerland Regional Planning Commission was hired to oversee the Community Block Grant Development housing award for the local owner-occupied housing rehab program.

The city renewed its lease for another 20 years with the Army Corps of Engineers for property between the city's east border and the river, totalling approximately 33 acres. 

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