Council hires new city manager

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By Shelia Tomkins

Following a closed session of the city council at its regular monthly meeting on Aug. 7, Denise Schneider accepted an offer for the city manager position. The position has been vacant since the departure of Mary Willett in July 2016.

Terms of Schneider's employment agreement provide for an annual salary of $63,000 for a three-year term with three-year renewal. The residency requirement was waived. She will begin her duties on Sept. 11.

Mayor Russ Loven and councilmembers Austin Greve, Fred Schaub, Virginia Saeugling, Jane Parker and Steve Friedlein were at the council table, along with Assistant City Manager Jamie Blume.

Fish sculpture 

Extra seating was set up in council chambers to accommodate the more than 30 people on hand, most of whom were present for an agenda item regarding the location of a fish sculpture in the downtown park area.

Mallory Marlatt, project coordinator from Northeast Iowa Resource Conversation and Development, gave a recap of the fish  sculpture project. RC&D received a National Endowment for the Arts grant for projects in 15 communities along the Scenic Byway route. The Guttenberg city council approved participation in the project several months ago.  

The local committee identified two locations for the scupture, and council members received packets with drawings of the sculpture in each location. Marlatt identified the primary location as being in the 600 block of South River Park Drive (known locally at the former Mary Waterman site) and the secondary location as the 500 block of South River Park Drive, just north of the Picket Fence Cafe. 

In response to concerns about blocking the river view, Marlatt said the artist placed the sculpture at an angle. She told the council that the sculpture and others in the series will bring visitors and boost economic development. Marlett answered additional questions from the council.

The Mayor defined rules for open discussion and allowed no comments from several people in attendance who attempted to speak, but did call on Park Board President Mary Streich for comment. She told the council that the park board's preference was the 500 block of South River Park Drive. At last month's council meeting, a motion to place the sculpture there died for lack of a second. 

After further discussion by the council, a motion was made to proceed with the park board's recommendation. The motion passed on a 3-2 vote with Greve, Schaub and Friedlein voting in favor and Saeugling and Parker against.

UTV ordinance

Continuing discussion from last month's meeting, several proponents were on hand to urge the council to enact an ordinance allowing UTV's in the community. Hank Fassbinder and Ron Heldt spoke on behalf of allowing UTV travel in the community. 

The council asked questions regarding proposed routes in and out of the community. Heldt said that currently UTVs have access to all communities in Clayton and Fayette Counties, with the exception of Guttenberg. He also gave examples of the economic impact that UTV riders could have. 

In response to questions, Police Chief George Morteo noted that laws governing UTV and ATV violations are already in place by the state and would be enforced locally.  A motion to ask the city attorney to prepare a UTV ordinance passed on a 4-1 vote, with Saeugling casting the dissenting vote. 

Budget amendment

The council approved an amendment to the budget for the current fiscal year. The budget amendment was necessaray in order to include the revenue and expenses the city will incur with the $50,000 grant for municipal building renovations that the city was awarded. The amendment also addresses the additional expense that was not budgeted this fiscal year for repairs to the shoreline in front of the marina building.  The cost was budgeted two years ago, but the river level rose and prevented repairs from occurring. The river is finally at a level to allow that work to be done, and the amendment  reflects those expenses.

Other business

Mary Abbott of IIW Engineers gave an update on the Garber bridge project, noting that final plans are due on Aug. 22 for district DOT review, and documents will be prepared for bidding that is tentatively set for November. Final cost estimates are still being worked on. 

At last month's meeting, the council approved closing the city office to the public from 8-10 daily on a trial basis. Assistant City Manager Jamie Blume reported that the staff has been more productive without interruptions during that time period. The council voted to continue those hours indefinitely.

The council voted to give assistant pool manager Jaderial Staebler a retroactive raise at the recommendation of the rec board to reflect extra duties she has been performing.

Blume updated the council on a plan to construct a skate park near Darwin Duwe field on the site of the former ice rink. The rec board has given its support to the idea; grants and donations will be used to fund it.

Mason Banz was approved as a reserve police officer.

Tristan Meyers was approved as a junior fireman with the fire department.

The council okayed ordering several codification changes as per the city attorney's recommendation to reflect new state legislation.

Fire Chief Jim Cunningham and Police Chief Morteo were on hand to answer any questions on their monthly reports.

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