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City council addresses short agenda

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By Shelia Tomkins

Working through a shorter than usual monthly agenda, the Guttenberg city council at its meeting on July 10 heard reports on the Stars and Stripes celebration, listened to police chief concerns and heard a mayoral update on nuisance properties.

Mayor Fred Schaub led the meeting, with councilmembers Mandy Ludovissy, Austin Greve, Jane Parker, Steve Bahls and Michelle Geuder on hand. Assistant City Manager Jamie Blume was present in the absence of City Manager Denise Schneider. 

Chamber/Community Vitality Report

Brandie Tomkins, Community Vitality/Chamber of Commerce director, reported on the success of this year's Stars and Stripes celebration and said that the fireworks show "went really well." Fireworks prices are going up, she noted, and expects that next year will be more expensive. "It cost $10,000 this year. So the problem we are running into is I can only do so much fund-raising a year. I'm asking the city to chip in," she told the council. She added that she was pleased with the people who were hired for this year's fireworks, but that she wanted to sign a contract with them soon and needs to commit to an amount, estimating $12,000 for next year.

Discussion followed on finances and the city's current contribution to Community Vitality/Chamber. Councilmember Ludovissy asked that Tomkins give the council a copy of the budget for the past and current year. The council also asked that she come back to next month's meeting with a specific dollar request for fireworks. 

Police Chief report

Police Chief Derek Chambers spoke to the council regarding the salary increase approved at last month's council meeting. His contract currently calls for a minimum of 90 hours per pay period,  and Chambers said the salary increase was calculated on an 80-hour pay period. After discussion the council voted to take his contract from a 90-hour minimum to 80-hours per pay period.

The Chief also asked for council feedback on portable traffic feedback signs that are being offered at by the Iowa Department of Transportation. He said any town with a state highway is eligible to receive two signs. He will present further information at next month's meeting. In other police business, he also discussed an entry that was asked to leave the Stars and Stripes parade; fireworks complaints,  and state and city code regarding UTV regulations. 

Nuisance properties

The mayor gave an update on some nuisance property issues, saying he had received phone calls about the Schmitt property on Acre Street regarding loads of fill recently dumped on the property on one side of the street and tree debris dumped on the other. Mayor Schaub said he discussed the matter with the city attorney. After discussion the assistant city manager was directed to send a letter to Schmitt.

Regarding the Ian Rodenberg property, the mayor said the city was told there may be a buyer for the property, but no details have been forthcoming. 

Parker asked that a notice about overgrown bushes on sidewalks be posted on Cable Channel 6.

Project update

A brief verbal update on the North Fifth Street project was given by Jamie Blume, who said that construction was expected to start that week. 

Other business

Councilman Bahls asked for an update on issues raised at last month's meeting regarding fishing in leased areas at the south municipal marina. The mayor said that the public works director obtained a bid on a custom gate. Mayor Schaub said he hadn't heard any complaints lately. "I think we should just wait and see how the rest of the summer fares out," he said.  Councilmember Ludovissy said that if the city was going to spend money on a gate "we should also do something for the kids fishing," and proposed that fish habitat be installed where kids could fish.

The following appointments were made: GEIDC, Tom Augustyn, Andrea Meyer and William Kann; Zoning Board of Adjustment, Al Troester; Riverfront Advisory, Laura Manson.

The council concurred with the recommendation of the Riverfront Advisory Board and approved a 3.92% increase for the five-year lease agreement for Winegar Works, based on the increase in the consumer price index.

After discussion on the city's annual insurance renewal and policy revisions, the council decided to table a decision pending some questions for insurance agent Mike Tujetsch.

Jordan and Hannah Millard received council approval to raise chickens at their residence at 130 N. First Street. 

Lengthy discussion took place regarding the replacement of the copy machine in city hall. Last month the council approved a bid for a new copier, but the staff asked for reconsideration in order to compare the merits of a copier  with features that would print letter-style statements versus the current postcard bills now in use. A representative from Gordon Flesch  Co. was on hand to answer council questions. After discussion the council voted to rescind last month's decision and to go an upgraded machine in order to phase out postcard bills.

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