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Ackley City Council | Regular Meeting

ACKLEY CITY COUNCIL met in regular session, October 11, 2017, in the City Hall Council Chambers with Mayor Erik Graham presiding. The meeting was called to order at 7:00 p.m. Council members present: Joe Wessels, Dale Brass, Robert Harms, Sue Ibeling, and Al Jones. Absent: None. Quorum present.

Harms moved, Jones seconded, to approve the October 11, 2017 Agenda as listed. Ayes-All. Motion carried.

Ibeling moved, Brass seconded, to approve the Consent Agenda by one motion: a) September 20, 2017 Regular Mtg Minutes as written b) Bills approval authorizing payment of bills and transfers as listed c) Place Reports on file: September 2017 Clerk Bank Reconciliation/Treasurer Report; September 2017 Clerk Budget Reports; September 2017 Deputy Clerk Utility Billing Reconciliation; September 2017 Ambulance Monthly Report; 3rd Quarter 2017 Prairie Bridges Financial Reports. Ayes-All. Motion carried.

No bids were received on the real estate known as 702 State Street, Ackley, Iowa so the public hearing on the disposal of such property was not held and Resolution No. 17-56 Authorizing Disposal of Property was not voted on. Ibeling moved, Harms seconded, for the Building and Parks Committee to get bids on the removal of asbestos and the disposal of property at 702 State Street and for the Council to discuss at the November meeting. Ayes-All. Motion carried.

Brass moved, Jones seconded, to adopt Resolution No. 17-61 Accepting Feuerbach’s First Subdivision. Roll call vote: Ayes-All. Motion carried.

Michael Hart, Northland Securities, gave a presentation to the Council on Financing for the Sewer Improvements. The estimated project cost is $2,000,000 for Phase I and $4,000,000 for Phase II. He presented options on the types of financing available along with ways to pay back the funds. He suggested the best option for financing was a loan with the Iowa Finance Authority’s SRF Loan Program. This would be a 2% loan over 20 years. A sewer rate increase was suggested as the best option for paying the funds back. The alternative would be an increase in property taxes. If the Council proceeds with the sewer increase they will now need to decide exactly how and when the increase will take place. The sooner the increase is implemented the more money will be built up and the less will need to be borrowed for phase II of the project. Hart acknowledged to the Council that this was a tough topic to deal with, but assured them that many other cities are facing the same choices. Hart will continue working with City staff to provide more information to the Council on sewer rate increase options to help the Council make their decisions.

Ibeling moved, Wessels seconded, to adopt Resolution No. 17-53 Establishing the Rules and Regulations on the Use of the City Facilities. Roll call vote: Ayes-All. Motion carried. Changes made to the resolution after September’s meeting include reducing the age requirement of senior groups to 55 and allowing long term check out of keys at the discretion of the Council.

Jones moved, Harms seconded, to adopt Resolution No. 17-57 Allowing Residents to Temporarily Inactivate Garbage Service. Roll call vote: Ayes-All. Motion carried. This resolution allows any resident who will be away from their property for two or more consecutive utility billing cycle periods, or any owner of property that will be vacant for two or more consecutive utility billing cycle periods, to request their garbage service be temporarily stopped and the service not billed. The resident or property owner must complete a form at City Hall making this request prior to the inactivation period. This resolution applies to garbage fees only and does not include landfill fees.

Ibeling moved, Harms seconded, to adopt Resolution No. 17-58 Amending the Employee Handbook Regarding Sick Time. Roll call vote: Ayes-All. Motion carried.

Ibeling moved, Jones seconded, to adopt Resolution No. 17-59 Amending the Employee Handbook Regarding Personal Time. Roll call vote: Ayes-All. Motion carried.

These two resolutions regarding amending the employee handbook allow employees to take sick time and personal time in one hour increments rather than a minimum of one half day.

Harms moved, Brass seconded, to adopt Resolution No. 17-60 Declaring Support and Intent of the Placement of Historic Route 20 Signage on the Town/City/County/State Maintained Road. Roll call vote: Ayes-All. Motion carried. This resolution meets the requirement set by the Iowa DOT so that the City can place Historic Route 20 markers on the public state highway.

Harms moved, Brass seconded, to set a Public Hearing for the first reading of Proposed Ordinance No. 500 Amending the Code of Ordinances of the City of Ackley, Iowa by Amending Section 135.10 Further Defining Maintenance of Parking or Terrace and 135.11 to Further Define Responsibility for Failure to Maintain Parking or Terrace for November 8, 2017 at 7:00 p.m. in the City Hall Council Chambers. Ayes-All. Motion carried. This ordinance addresses what property owners are and are not allowed to place in the right of way between the street and the sidewalk and states that the City is not responsible for any damage to improper improvements placed in the right of way.

Lee Gallentine, CGA, requested direction from the Council regarding the library sidewalk project. McDowell & Sons had presented a change order due to the standing water in the amount of $4,200 to remove and replace the soil. Council requested that King’s Construction, who the City contracted to do this project, attempt to pump out the water first and see what the soil is like, and if it will dry out enough over the next week to proceed with the project before they commit to spending any more money. Clerk Kelly DeBerg than addressed the Council with a request from the Cougar’s Den Advisory Board to include a section of their sidewalk, next to what is currently being replaced, in the project. The Board is making this request since that section will need to be replaced so that the daycare facility’s handicap ramp is more usable. Gallentine will find out the cost and the Streets Committee will make the decision. Gallentine informed the Council that the SRF loan applications for the Sanitary Sewer Continuing Improvement Plan have been submitted and are on track to be approved in the 4th quarter.

Ryan Fischer, CGA, informed the Council that the South Butler Street Project is finished except for the guardrail. He stated that per the DOT the City can use the non-standard guardrail that was in the contract, but then the federal funding may be in jeopardy. Fischer was working with the DOT to get a definite decision on how it would affect the funding. Fischer explained that while the DOT approved the original contract, with the non-standard guardrail in it, they do not go over it in detail. The contractor bid the project with the non-standard guardrail, and then after getting the bid pointed out that it was sub-standard. The Council does not feel it is necessary to spend an additional $6,680 for something that was never even there before. The Council agreed to wait and see what the DOT says, and if federal funding will be affected, they directed the Streets Committee to approve the change order.

Dustin Ingram, Economic Development Director, reviewed the Director’s Report with the Council explaining the various items he is working on. He also gave a brief explanation of the Strategic Plan that the ADC members recently voted to adopt. It is a five year plan for economic development with five different components. While it is not required, the ADC would like the Council to review the plan and adopt it as well. Harms commended Ingram on his work since he has taken over his position.

DeBerg informed the Council that the City had received a grant reimbursement on the RISE Street Project in the amount of $206,194.67. The City had also just received a payment request of $289,397.51 for the South Butler Street Project. DeBerg stated that at this time the bank cash balance should be adequate to cover expenses without having to use any of the City’s other cash options.

Wessels shared with the Council that an asbestos inspection has been completed on the elevator at a cost of $600. Some asbestos was found. Wessels is now working on getting three bids to remove the asbestos. It is estimated that the removal will cost $1,000-$1,500. The City will need an asbestos report to get the permit from the State to burn the elevator.

Council discussed the recent removal of the sidewalk at Jim Cockerham’s rental property. Cockerham was given thirty days to replace his sidewalk per the Code of Ordinances. While this ordinance hadn’t always been enforced in the past, in November 2016 the current Council voted to begin enforcing it with an effective date of January 1, 2016, when this council took office. Cockerham requested he have until next spring to replace the sidewalk. Wessels pointed out that the sidewalk goes nowhere. Ibeling stated that they could not back down and could not allow any exceptions otherwise the ordinance book was not good for anything. Brass agreed and commented that this was an ongoing problem and the Council had established a date to begin enforcing this particular ordinance. Brass moved, Ibeling seconded, to require Cockerham to replace his sidewalk per the ordinance. Since his thirty days was up on Monday and he was waiting to hear the Council’s decision, he will be notified that he has one week to replace the sidewalk or the City will hire someone and bill him. Ayes-All. Motion carried.

Council then discussed the garbage billing for apartment complexes. Deputy Clerk Malena Dennis has been auditing the utility accounts and had discovered that some apartment complexes were not getting billed according to the ordinance as residential properties. Dennis had informed these property owners of the billing change. Nick Graham had requested this be reviewed as he felt his rental property was commercial and that he should not be billed for garbage by the City. Dennis and Gallentine explained that how property is assessed for tax purposes does not mean that is how it is zoned. His rental property is zoned residential and the ordinance states that the City shall provide by contract for the collection of solid waste from residential premises and that each residential premise and each dwelling unit of a multiple-family dwelling are to be billed collection fees. Mayor Graham stated that the option was to change the ordinance or leave it as it is. Other rental properties have been getting billed correctly in the past and they are all getting billed correctly per the ordinance now. Ibeling suggested they leave the ordinance as is. Harms said they need to follow the ordinance. Brass and Jones agreed.

Discussion was then held on the “noon” whistle which is no longer working properly. The City has received a proposal of $19,000 to replace it with a new warning siren that would include the whistle feature. A citizen had volunteered to fix the current whistle at no labor cost. However, the issue seems to be that the parts are hard to get because the sirens were bought used 50 years ago. The timer has been replaced with a new one, but it doesn’t always work with the rest of the old system. Mayor Graham had taken an informal social media survey and stated that the results were about 50/50 with the options of remove or replace. Council decided to get a cost estimate from the citizen to fix the whistle. Harms stated that it may have to wait until next budget year.

In regards to an update on the City Hall improvement, Wessels stated that he had nothing further on the heating and cooling, and Mayor Graham commented there was nothing new on the sidewalk. Other old business included the review of Ordinance No. 488 Amending Section 90.10, Pertaining to Installation of Water Service Pipe. Brass and Jones agreed that if plastic is just as good as copper and is traceable, then the City should not force a property owner to pay five times more by requiring they use copper to repair or replace their water line. Wessels explained that there are different grades and prices of plastic and copper. Mayor Graham recommended that the Water/Sanitation Committee get pricing for comparison and discuss again at a future meeting.

DeBerg gave updates on other old business. The Planning and Zoning Commission has reviewed and approved the Industrial Park Final Plat. Attorney Mike Smith is drafting the resolution for the Council to approve. The City needs to decide what to do with the lot that was donated to the City by Habitat for Humanity. Smith informed DeBerg that the City could only gift property to other governmental entities and that it should be put up for bid. However, Smith stated that is was permissible for the City to discuss the plan to put it up for bid with the neighboring property owner in advance. Wessels will speak with the property owner.

Public Comments: Judy Crawford asked why the length of the whistle was shortened and what the cost was for the new timer. Chief Brian Shimon responded informing her that with the previous timer the whistle blew eight to ten seconds. They original set the new timer for fifteen seconds, but have shorted it to seven seconds. Shimon stated he believed the new timer cost around $600.

With no further discussion, Harms moved, Ibeling seconded, to adjourn at 9:48 p.m. Ayes-All. Motion carried.

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