City signs contract with new electric power provider

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By Shelia Tomkins

The Guttenberg city council at its regular monthly meeting on Feb. 12 signed a contract with a new wholesale electric power provider, raised current electric rates, okayed improvements on DeKalb Street in conjunction with Casey's expansion, and heard a request from a new business. 

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

Electric power contract

As a result of discussion at previous meetings, the council voted to end its current wholesale power agreement with AEP and to enter into a contract with a new provider, Resale Power Group of Iowa (RPGI). The new contract will  become effective Jan. 1, 2019, and will represent a cost savings to the city.

In a related matter, the council voted to increase electric rates due to an increase in current supplier costs. The increase will take effect immediately.

Casey's request

Lenny Larson of ISG, the engineering firm handling the expansion of the Casey's General Store in Guttenberg, received permission to alter the grade on DeKalb Street and to modify some electric poles to accommodate the new construction. Casey's will pay the costs of street reconstruction. 

New business request

Angela Reed, speaking on behalf of a new business, Reed's Steakhouse and Grill, told the council that the restaurant is scheduled to open in April in the former Riverview Cafe building.  She asked the council to waive utility charges for the first six months of operation. 

In discussion that followed, Mayor Frommelt spoke in support of the request, and urged local residents to support the business year around. "We are trying to add businesses to attract people to the community. I'm trying to get some momentum going. I'd like to see the city help them out," he said. He gave of examples of ways the city has helped other businesses in the past.

Council member Jane Parker proposed, in lieu of providing free utilities, that the city allow deferred payment for the first three months. Councilman Schaub said he thought that allowing the request would "open up something that we can't control." Council member Sauegling asked if the city's revolving loan fund could be used for start-up costs, and also had concerns about the recent increase in utility rates. 

Business owner Mike Hefel spoke, saying he thought a new restaurant is a good idea, and that city assistance would be fine with him, but "what's fair for the goose, is fair for the gander...I have a terrible road going down to my place that could be paved."

After further discussion, the council unanimously voted to offer delayed payment for the first three months of operation, contingent of having the electric meter in the name of the new business. 

Other business

A public hearing on the proposed budget for the 2018-19 fiscal year was set for the next regular council meeting on Monday, March 12, at 6 p.m. 

Following up on a topic mentioned by the Mayor at the January meeting, the council voted to change the time to 9 a.m. for opening the city office to the public. Office employees begin work at 8 a.m., and had previously opened  the doors to the public at 10 a.m. Closing remains the same at 4:30 p.m.

The city manager received permission to temporarily move the city office to the lower level while renovations are done on the office floor and other improvements. 

The council voted to donate a pool punch card to the Kids Kampus April fundraiser.

Carol Lau spoke to the council asking permission to place a granite bench in memory of her husband on the north levee, one of two requests the city has received. The council approved both requests, contingent on approval from the Army Corps of Engineers.

Bill Robinson addressed the council on behalf of the Carolyn Carrier family, and asked the city to issue a quit claim deed for a parcel of land that was part of a city alley vacated in 1957. The council instructed the city attorney to prepare the paperwork and will hold a public hearing at the March 12 meeting.  

Dave Bahls, speaking on behalf of River Park Cruisers, received permission to close streets for this year's car show on Sept. 15. The closures will be the same as last year.

A resolution was approved waiving mandatory connection to the city water system for Todd Lammers, who resides on North Bluff Street.

Approval was given to a supplemental agreement with IIW Engineers for the Garber Road bridge project set to begin this spring. 

Community Savings Bank, Peoples State Bank and Fidelity Bank were approved as official depositories for city funds. 

The council okayed placing an ad for a public works position and adding an addendum to the job description in the union contract. 

A policy for retaining city records was approved. 

An addendum to the city's collective bargaining agreement will provide for a mutually agreed upon negotiations schedule.

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