Council hears reports, project updates

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By Shelia Tomkins

The Guttenberg city council heard updates on major city projects, heard Chamber/Community Vitality reports and amended several ordinances at the regular monthly meeting on Oct. 10.

Mayor Fred Schaub presided over the evening’s agenda with council members Michelle Geuder, Steve Bahls, Jane Parker, Austin Greve and Mandy Ludovissy at the table, along with City Manager Denise Schneider.

Project updates

Steve Thompson, an engineer with Veenstra & Kimm, gave an update on city projects. He congratulated the city on the award of a $500K grant for Phase I of the water system improvement project (see story this page).  He complimented the city manager Denise Schneider on the city’s success in obtaining grants. “I think it is pretty amazing the amount of grants she has put together and succeeded….you have had a disproportionate amount of success,” he said. Thompson will proceed with permitting and other steps required prior to final approvals and bidding. He anticipates construction beginning mid-summer of next year. 

He said plans for the Fifth Street overlay project have been submitted to the Iowa DOT for review. The storm sewer extension project is awaiting word on funding. Design work for the Big Springs trail project will begin after a survey. Discussion was held on a proposed bioswale feature for flood control, and the council approved a design agreement with his firm as a step in applying for federal funds for a mechanical trash screen and generator.  

Chamber/Community Vitality reports

Chamber/Community Vitality director Brandie Tomkins spoke to the council about the agreement between the city and the Chamber of Commerce for the Community Vitality position, the job description and the CV director employment agreement. Following discussion, the council made clarifications and approved some changes. She also received permission to attend a leadership conference. 

Tomkins gave a written and verbal update on activities of the Community Vitality committee, and CV member Jackie Lee also made comments.

GEIDC update

Austin Coon of the Guttenberg Economic and Industrial Development Commission gave the council an update on the project that was recently awarded a $2.7 million grant  (see issue of Sept. 21). Plans call for construction of a multi-use community building south of the municipal building.  “We are awaiting further information about the grant to determine how to proceed,” he said. “We don’t have a whole lot of information to provide at this time.” He said once a contract is in place he will keep the council updated.

Upper Explorerland


Diane Johnson of Upper Explorerland Regional Planning Commission spoke at a public hearing on the status of Covid funds that were used for the local food assistance project. “We have to hold a public hearing to let the public know what has been done,” she said. She noted that $52,000 has been spent to date and was used to purchase a freezer and a delivery vehicle. 

Johnson also said there is some federal storm water funding available on a first-come first-serve basis. The council approved having UERPC provide grant writing services for those funds.  

Hospital board

Mayor Schaub administered to the oath of office to Austin Coon, who will fill the hospital board seat left vacant by the resignation of Karen Merrick. The term will end in 2023.

Other business

The council gave final approval to an ordinance that passed on first reading at last month’s council meeting regarding the division of taxes in the 2022 city urban renewal area. They also approved TIF (Tax Increment Financing) agreements with Klaes Enterprise and Walke Properties as discussed at previous meetings. 

The city is having an online auction of surplus items and the council okayed the list of items being sold.

Police Chief Derek Chamber spoke to the council about the computation of police officer overtime when working on holidays. After lengthy discussion the council approved a motion to include the hours worked on a holiday as a portion of the total hours worked — 80 hours for a police officer pay period and 40 hours a week for regular employees. Hours over the total will be paid at the overtime rate. 

Chief Chambers also spoke to the council about changing the city ordinance regarding the amount of time trailers can be parked on the street. He suggested that all parking limits be changed to 48 hours and that signs be added to the downtown area.  The proposed changes will be on next month’s agenda for council consideration.

Joe Zittergruen was  appointed as representative and Austin Greve as alternate to the county E-911 Service Board.

The city will purchase a stencil for sidewalk/trail areas noting that bicycles must yield to pedestrians.

Discussion was held on nuisance properties, and the council directed the city manager to refer the Ian Rodenberg property to the city attorney, and to pursue city action on the Miskito and Kelby Behrends properties. The council discussed sending Don Schmitt a letter telling him to spread and level fill material. The mayor noted he had a call regarding an unsightly weeds and debris on city property. 

The council okayed spending up to $3,700 for holiday banners for city light poles. The council also gave the go ahead to purchase new furniture for the city office, with the cost not to exceed $18,000. The city manager will check with a local furniture store before purchasing it online.

The city manager received the go-ahead to apply for a grant from the Federal Recreational Trails program for the community trail project. 

The council amended the ordinance regarding construction permit fees — those who begin a project without obtaining a permit will now pay penalty fees. Related discussion was held on a property on the Great River Road. 

Electric rates for customers living outside the city limit and who do not pay city property taxes will now increase following council passage of an ordinance amendment. 

The council also passed an ordinance amendment addressing vendor permits at special events in an effort to regulate uninvited attendees. 

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