Guttenberg city council okays development position

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By Shelia Tomkins

For the second time since the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in Iowa, the Guttenberg city council met using social distancing and electronic communication for its monthly meeting on April 13.

Mayor Bill Frommelt and City Manager Denise Schneider were at the council table, along with council members Jane Parker, Virginia Saeugling, Fred Schaub and  Austin Greve, who all sat appropriate distances apart; councilman Mick Pierce participated electronically.

Development director position

Following up on discussion at the March meeting, the council voted unanimously to approve the creation of a new position — community/economic vitality development director. Mayor Frommelt said the position was "needed to sustain and generate businesses and activities in Guttenberg." The City Manager reminded the council that a commitment from Guttenberg Economic and Development Commission and the hospital foundation will help support the initial cost of the position. 

Resident Russ Loven spoke in support of the position. Council discussion on when the position would begin had no definite answer. "I'm not against the position at all," said councilmember Saeugling, "but I'm not sure if you want to bring someone in during the whole COVID-19." No decision was made on when the position would begin. 

Project updates

Steve Thompson, an engineer with Veenstra and Kimm, Inc., spoke electronically and gave the council updates on three projects. 

He said the riverbank stabilization project in downtown Guttenberg is being worked on by a structural engineer, but additional survey work awaits lower river levels.

Survey work has been ordered for the Schiller Street project, and once that is complete, design work will move forward. 

Regarding the wastewater project, he said May is the target for advertising for bids.

City employee work schedules

Councilmember Parker suggested that some city workers could be directed to return to work full-time and work on outdoor projects while practicing social distancing. The council voted to have a full staff return by April 20 if feasible, practicing safety guidelines and COVID-19 precautions. On Thursday, Iowa Gov. Reynolds announced stronger mitigation efforts for this region, which prompted a special city council meeting on Saturday to discuss the earlier decision. The council weighed various options that would address worker safety, continuation of essential services, an increased backlog of work, the risk of having a sick worker who would cause the rest of the staff to move into self-quarantine, and work station arrangements in the city office. After lengthy discussion that included feedback from some city employees, the council decided to have employees work three-day split shifts with half working Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and the other half Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, with the Saturday assignment alternating. 

Other business

The next regular monthly meeting on May 11 was set as a hearing for an amendment to this year's budget. The City Manager said the amendment reflected the recent refinancing of bonds, as well as other miscellaneous income, and expenses included some items carried over from the previous fiscal year.  "The good news is we had more than enough revenues to cover the expenditures," she said.

Discussion was held on the proposed 2020 employee handbook. Councilmember Saeugling raised concerns about pay increases for employees who complete certification levels — including water, wastewater, electrical, pool and administrative staff — as well as who would bear the cost for the training if an employee leaves. The city manager recommended a training contract that would address those issues, as well as requiring council approval prior to taking a course. The council approved the handbook with the changes discussed.

The council accepted a $13,450 bid from Bodensteiner Implement for a John Deere mower that will be used for parks.

The council heard a report from Gary Weiner of Radio Dubuque saying that 18 businesses have agreed to support the July Fourth Golden Knight parachute promotion. The City of Guttenberg had originally agreed to a $5,000 investment in the promotion, but due to the business response, he said the city's portion would be reduced to $3,664. However, he offered the city additional ads if the council would decide to contribute the full $5,000; the council unanimously agreed to do so.  

The council accepted a bid of $18,133.50 from  Bob's Lawn Care/Dustin White for weed spraying. 

The mayor read a proclamation declaring April Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

The council approved CDBG housing rehabilitation mortgage releases for Austin Greve and Mary Moser.

The council set a public hearing for May 11 on the sale of a small parcel of city property in north Guttenberg to Rick Jensen, as per discussion at previous meetings.

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