Waukon City Council approves smaller than anticipated increase to maximum property tax levy, sets budget public hearing for March 7

by Joe Moses

The Waukon City Council met in regular session Monday, February 7. The meeting was called to order with the removal of an agenda item relating to a Closed Session pertaining to discussion of a real estate matter. There was no Public Comment and the meeting moved into Department Reports. Street Superintendent Keith Burrett provided an update relating to the removal of snow from cul de sacs, general maintenance and ongoing preparations for the next snowfall.

Water and Sewer Superintendent Jim Cooper discussed a water main break that took place January 28 with that break being found and repaired. Cooper noted that a vendor will be meeting with him soon relating to leak detection equipment that would be beneficial in quickly locating leaks and that he will relay the pricing information to the council. Cooper also discussed the effect of freezing and sub-zero temperatures on the Wastewater Treatment Plant’s processes.

Police Chief Paul Wagner discussed funding from the Governor’s Traffic Safety Bureau through a program similar to Special Traffic Enforcement Program (sTEP), with $4,500 being awarded toward a car camera system costing $5,700. Council member John Lydon and Wagner discussed the lighted crosswalk near schools at 9th Street NW which has been well received by the public with improved pedestrian safety and improved visibility for motorists.

Park, Recreation and Wellness Director Jeremy Strub provided an update relating to Biddy Basketball and Adult Volleyball. He noted that the Wellness Center numbers were down slightly in December with January numbers seeing an increase. Strub advised that advertisements for Summer Recreation employment are starting with this week’s newspaper, with 70 employees needed for the summer season.

City Attorney Jeff Swartz did not have any information to report, with Senior Project Manager Lyle TeKippe of Fehr Graham Engineering then providing a brief overview of plans relating to 2022 street improvement projects. TeKippe advised that he would be providing brief updates and summaries to the council on a regular basis.

City Manager Gary Boden provided the City Manager’s Report, noting that an upcoming Planning Commission meeting could possibly be delayed due to a proposal from a developer not yet being received relating to the former Bresnahan property. Boden advised that revisions to the Steve Pladsen subdivision plat, the former McCabe property, will be added to the next council meeting agenda. Boden also noted that a meeting is scheduled for later this week to include several City staff members and representatives of a water meter manufacturer. There was nothing added relating to the Mayor’s Report or the City Council Report.

The meeting moved into the Public Hearing for the Proposed Property Tax Levy for Fiscal-Year Ending (FYE) June 30, 2023. The Public Hearing was opened with City Clerk Sarah Snitker indicating that no written or verbal comments have been received. The Public Hearing was closed.

The next matter addressed related to the Resolution: Setting Maximum Property Tax Dollars for the upcoming 2022-2023 Fiscal-Year. City Finance Director Lana Snitker and Boden discussed a 20-cent increase to the property tax rate to $15 per $1,000 of assessed value from the current rate of $14.80, approximately a 1.35 percent increase in the rate for the current fiscal year. Boden advised that the rate increase relates to the $2.1 million bond issue for street projects and the $400,000 designated for the proposed Street Department Garage replacement project.

Boden further explained that the 20-cent increase is about half of what City officials were originally anticipating for the upcoming fiscal year, noting that an increase in property valuations and limits on what municipalities can levy helped lower that anticipated increase. A public hearing on the budget is scheduled for March 7. The council approved the Resolution.

The council moved into discussion of the Resolution of support for the Allamakee County Façade Program. Executive Director Val Reinke of Allamakee County Economic Development (ACED) provided background relating to this matter. Reinke advised that Executive Director Andy Kelleher of Main Street Lansing had made a proposal to the Allamakee County Board of Supervisors to create a countywide façade improvement program with applications to be made through the ACED office. Reinke added that this funding could be used for various business façade improvements including signage, painting, windows, among other exterior updates.

Reinke discussed the positive impact façade improvements have in making businesses and communities more inviting for residents and visitors. She noted that Postville Mayor Dennis Koenig has provided a letter of support relating to the program with Kelleher pursuing a letter of support from the City of Lansing. Mayor Pat Stone and council member Steve Wiedner both indicated their support, with the council then approving to submit a letter of support for this program.

Boden addressed the next matter relating to the additional scope of service for the Water Quality Initiative (WQI) Grant and Fehr Graham. Boden advised new information has been provided by Engineer Paige Pierce of Fehr Graham Engineering regarding an additional $100,000 grant opportunity relating to the proposed water quality improvement projects within the Waukon City Park and subdivision area to the north that are tied to the new Wastewater Treatment Plant’s funding through the State Revolving Fund (SRF) loan. Boden discussed the financial aspects relating to these projects with the grant applied for, along with other funding, projected to cover these costs in addition to a five-percent cost overrun. The council approved the additional costs relating to the WQI Grant.

The council approved the Teamsters Union Agreement for July 1, 2022-June 30, 2024. Boden discussed the council’s direction to approve the agreement, which includes a three-percent increase starting July 1, 2022 and a three-percent increase July 1, 2023.

Tentative Approval of Fiscal-Year 2023 (FY23) General Fund, Capital Projects, Road Use Tax, Library, Debt Service, Tax Increment Financing, Associated Revenue Funds and Wellness Center was the next agenda item addressed by the council. Boden provided an overview of various funds, revenues and expenditures for FY23. He discussed the General Fund, Street Improvements, Street Department/Park and Rec Garage, Local Options Sales Tax (LOST), FY23 Capital Project Financing, among other budgetary matters. The council approved to tentatively approve and to set the Public Hearing for the FYE 2023 Budget for March 7, 2022 at 7 p.m. Prior to adjournment, the council approved the Resolution: Transfer from the Wellness Center Capital Maintenance Fund to the General Fund.
 

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