First meeting of the year for Guttenberg city council

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By Shelia Tomkins

At its first meeting of the year on Jan. 5, the Guttenberg city council gave final approval to the mailbox ordinance and also set a public hearing for later this month to borrow money for a new tractor.

Mayor Russ Loven led councilmembers Virginia Saeugling, Fred Schaub, Dave Schlueter, Jane Parker and Steve Friedlein through the agenda. City Manager Mary Willett and City Attorney Mike Schuster were also on hand.

The council gave final approval to an ordinance that requires cluster mailboxes in the city except for Garber Road and Miners Creek Road. Prior to the vote, Bluff Street resident Charles Schindler spoke in favor of retaining individual mailboxes on that street. 

The council set Jan. 20 as the date of a hearing on a proposal to borrow money for the purchase of a 2014 John Deere tractor in an amount not to exceed $60,000.

The park board ordinance is being revised to provide for the election of all members (currently made up of elected and appointed  members) to four-year staggered terms. The ordinance also deletes the park board secretary position and removes oversight of the Guttenberg Marina from the park board's duties. All ayes.

A proposed agreement between the city, the Iowa DOT and the railroad received council approval on a 4-1 vote with Schlueter in dissent. It provides for the installation of flashing lights and arms at the DeKalb Street crossing. The city will pay 10% of the estimated $210,000 cost. 

The council approved a resolution that sets garbage fees for the coming year, but did not yet designate a garbage contractor since bids are being sought. The cost for customers will increase 50-cents per month.

The council discussed the initial union proposal for the coming year  — the union is requesting an 85-cent across the board increase. Negotiations will begin at a meeting on Jan. 14. 

In her monthly report, City Manager Mary Willett noted that she has now been on the job for one year and that her yearly review will be at the February meeting. She informed the council of upcoming meetings she will be attending and also spoke about grant opportunities she is pursuing.

The City Manager said she has sent three emails to Canadian Pacific Railroad requesting a meeting to discuss concerns but has yet to receive a response. Concerns include the speed, length and weight of trains passing through the community; the railroad's disaster plans and also plans for crossing closures. 

The first budget work session will be held Jan. 20. 

Police Chief George Morteo and the city manager will work on drafting a policy for the use of body cameras by police officers.

The council approved the following annual appointments: City Attorney, Mike Schuster; Assistant City Attorney, James Garrett; City Manager, Mary Willett and Fire Chief, Chad Esmann.

Resident Barb Pape questioned the progress being made on nuisance properties. The City Manager is checking into the DNR Derelict Building grant program. 

The council approved more than $33,000 in payments to Canadian Pacific Railroad for crossing improvements at Hadyn, Pearl and Kosciusko Streets.

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