Housing, railroad, water utilities on council agenda

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By Shelia Tomkins

The Guttenberg city council at its regular monthly meeting on April 6 heard a presentation on housing inspections, discussed railroad concerns and acted on water utility issues.

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 Michael Schuster were also present.

Lori Brockway from Upper Explorerland Regional Planning Commission spoke to the council about the UERPC certified building inspector program that Guttenberg can choose to take part in. She said the program covers rental and owner-occupied properties. "The purpose is to assure decent, safe and certified housing," said Brockway. She noted that Guttenberg currently has 38 buildings in observed poor condition. The program does not cover new building inspections. The City of Fayette is currently taking part in the program and Brockway shared information on that community's housing code. 

City Manager Willett reported on an idea for public art in the park being proposed by Umbrella Arts and recently presented by Juanita Loven to the park board. The board recommended that a community survey be taken to gather public input, and Willett said she will come up with a list of survey questions.

A public hearing was set for the May 4 council meeting regarding a fine levied against Pronto Market for a tobacco sales violation. The hearing will provide a means for the $300 fine to go into city coffers rather than to the state.

As a follow-up on previous discussion and in order to facilitate the 911 addressing system, the name of Lorenz Lane was changed to Acre Street. 

A increase for water and sewer rates received final approval from the council and will take effect upon publication of the ordinance. The first and second readings of the ordinance were approved at previous meetings. The action came about when an audit report recommended an increase in customer water and sewer rates in order to cover operating costs. The base rate will increase $1 for water, $2 for sewer and $.50 for storm sewer. The ordinance also provides for a minimum monthly billing even if service is disconnected. 

In a related matter, the council passed a resolution to enforce the water and sewer connection code and approved a letter to the Guttenberg RV Park regarding the same.  City Attorney Schuster discussed a proposed resolution establishing a sewer service charge for utility customers not connected to city water lines.

Discussion was held on concerns about the Canadian Pacific trains that travel through the community. Mayor Loven, who has been on the Clayton County Emergency Management board, said, "There's a lot of hazardous materials that go through our city so we have a right to be concerned." Discussion centered on the speed of the trains, their length and weight and the quality of the railroad's equipment. The city manager said she has addressed those issues with CP and asked them to come and discuss matters. She expressed a desire for lights and gates at every crossing.  "I think a key is keeping good communication with the railroad," said the mayor.  

Other business

Resident Barb Pape spoke on concerns about tax rates, utilizing military surplus equipment  and grants. 

Dustin White was approved as a member of the Guttenberg Fire Department.

Police Chief George Morteo gave his monthly report to the council and noted that work continues on a written policy for the use of body cameras.

The City Manager gave her monthly report on meetings attended, grant applications and other updates.

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