City council approves budget

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By Shelia Tomkins

The Guttenberg city council at its regular monthly meeting on March 12 approved the budget for the coming fiscal year, discussed railroad issues and heard a request for street improvements.

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

Budget approved

No comments were received at a public hearing on the proposed budget for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2019. The council unanimously adopted the  $29.5 million budget which also includes the municipal hospital budget; the city portion of the total is $11.6 million.

Pool thank-you

Following the successful passage of the bond issue to help finance a new swimming pool, Bec Knudtson and Deb Moser, representing the Wave of the Future committee, thanked the mayor, council, previous mayor and previous council and community for their support of the project. "Now that the city has come in, we can go after grants," Knudtson told the council. 

Garber bridge update

Mary Abbott from IIW, the engineering firm in charge of the project,  gave a brief update on the Garber bridge project.  Depending on weather and ground conditions,  work is anticipated to start sometime in April. The contractor has 110 working days to complete the project. 

Railroad issues

Mayor Bill Frommelt discussed establishing an ordinance to address engine noise from parked railcars. "We have had issues from time to time with rail cars parked on a siding in town, in residential areas, running all night, with lights on," he said. "We want to try to work on an ordinance if we can, and start some conversation with the railroad to see if there is a way to resolve this." 

The mayor also said he would like to set up a face-to-face meeting with city officials and a railroad representative in the near future. Discussion was held on the speed of trains through the city as well as on the loudness of horns. 

Road improvements

Dennis Schlueter, owner of Miners Creek Hideaway campground, spoke to the council to request improvements on Miners Creek Road. His business is located along the road, within the city limits, and he requested that the city sealcoat the surface from Mt. Olivet Cemetery to the city limit line. 

Schlueter told the council his business is growing, and he is looking at expansion. He has had potential customers refuse to use the gravel road that at times is plagued by mud or dust. Schlueter noted that his business contributes tax money and utility fees to the local economy, and draws many customers to other Guttenberg businesses. 

Discussion was held on types of road surfacing, improving drainage, and quotes for various surfacing options. The city manager will confer with the public works director and bring information back to the council. 

Other business

The city will apply to the federal Community Development Block Grant program to assist in the rehabilitation of six local owner-occupied homes whose owners meet income guidelines. Lori Brockway from Upper Explorerland reviewed nine points of the application prior to the council's approval of the application and administrative plan. 

Jeff Nieland of Miles, representing Washington National, received council permission to meet with city employees and discuss the benefits of supplemental insurance. "This enhances the employee benefit package at no cost to the employer," he said. The program would utilize payroll deduction for premium payment.

Updated job descriptions for city positions were approved. 

The council approved a request from the Clayton Ridge after-prom committee for $50 in Guttenberg bucks.

The council okayed the rec board's recommendation for swimming pool wages for the coming season. 

Following the city manager's first six months on the job, the mayor recommended a 2% salary increase for her, effective immediately. The motion passed on a split vote with Parker voting nay.

Jerri McGuine, on behalf of Moxie's and the Dam Bar, spoke to the council to request summer street closings for two events on River Park Drive in the downtown area. The council okayed closing five blocks on June 23 for a Romper Room Fun Run, and three blocks on July 14 for a Combat Veterans Ride. 

Following up on discussion at the Feb. 12 meeting, the council formally disposed of a portion of Fourth Street at the request of the Carolyn Carrier family; the action corrected a 1957 city council action.

The city will submit a re-designation application to the Iowa Great Places program.

Discussion was held on installing lighting near the mailboxes on Royal Oaks Dr. The city manager will ask the city electrician for  some options and costs.

A change in the handling of the library petty cash fund was approved. 

The city office will be closed on April 24 so that staff can attend software training out of town. 

The mayor read a proclamation declaring April 5 as Junior Achievement of the Heartland Day.

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