City council sets March budget hearing

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By Shelia Tomkins

The Guttenberg city council at its monthly meeting on Feb. 13 set a public hearing for next year's budget,  heard an update on the dog park and approved membership in the County Emergency Response Team.

Mayor Fred Schaub led councilmembers Michelle Geuder, Steve Bahls, Jane Parker, Austin Greve and Mandy Ludovissy through the agenda. City Manager Denise Schneider was also at the council table. 

Tax levy

No comments were received at the public hearing regarding the proposed property tax levy for the coming fiscal year. This year's levy is proposed at 15.54971, compared to last year's 15.07757 levy. The council passed a resolution approving the property tax dollars for the budget, and set a public hearing for March 13 on the proposed budget.

Councilmember Bahls spoke in favor of holding up on any future grant applications because they require  a percentage of local matching funds. The mayor commented on the current trails grant saying, "We got the work into this one, and then kind of slow down on grants altogether."

Chamber/Vitality report

Brandie Tomkins, Chamber of Commerce and Community Vitality director, received council permission for street closures for three events this year: Stars and Stripes, GermanFest and the German Christmas Market and parade.

She said further discussion on the proposed dog park would take place at the Community Vitality meeting on Feb. 14, and that a news release would be issued when details are ironed out. Some council members expressed concerns about the current proposed site on the north end of town, citing issues with the flood plain and gate. Council members made suggestions on other sites. 

Police Dept.

A revised Guttenberg Police Department policy manual was approved by the council as requested by Chief Derek Chambers, who said it contains updates mandated by the legislature.

The council approved the $2,500 membership fee for the local department to be part of the Clayton County Emergency Response Team,  in order to form a mutual-aid organization that could better respond to high-risk situations.

Official appointments

The council approved the following appointments: Kids Kampus board, Brenda Schaub; Fire Chief, Joe Zittergruen; Assistant Fire Chiefs, Jim Cunningham and Josh Roth; personnel committee, Steve Bahls and Jane Parker. 

Other business

Diana Johnson from Upper Explorerland Regional  Planning Commission spoke to the council with a required update on the status of the City of Guttenberg Daycare Assistance Project that used federal COVID-19 funds. Funds were awarded to Ma's Daycare. Johnson said the project has expended $47,000 to date for staffing and improvements and the project is expected to be completed by May 31. 

An action taken at last month's meeting regarding the proposed sale of city property along the Great River Road to Ron and Sue Hoefer was rescinded due to an incorrect property description. The council approved the ordinance using the corrected description. 

Dave Bahls of the River Park Cruisers received council approval for street closures during the annual car show on Sept. 16 from 6 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Tom Siegert of the Combat Veterans spoke to the council, saying that the group has decided to cancel its benefit motorcycle ride stop in Guttenberg this year due to what he termed a conflict with one of  the establishments in town. He said the stop has been changed to Garber. Mayor Schaub thanked him for letting the city know. "We want to make this work," the mayor said and asked that next year the group contact the Chamber director.

Councilmember Ludovissy asked for regular updates on the community building project from the Guttenberg Economic and Industrial Development Commission/Family Resource Center.

The council  moved forward on plans to establish a natural gas franchise, setting a public hearing on proposed fees. This will change the city's revenue from local option taxes, which are shared with other government entities,  to franchise fees, which go entirely to the city.

In regard to nuisance properties, the mayor said he had nothing to report other than the fact that  the city attorney is moving forward on with action on the Ian Rodenberg property.

The council approved an ordinance change regarding the sale of city property that will now allow for the notification of adjacent property owners.

A fuel bid was accepted from Kwik Star, in addition to the one accepted from Casey's at last month's meeting. Bids are sought every six months.

The council approved a $1.50 pay increase for Mat Ries, pending union approval, to reflect added responsibilities following the promotion of Dan Pierce to public works director. 

Discussion was held on finding someone for marina and janitorial positions. 

The council okayed sending out letters regarding land lease renewals on riverfront property.

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