The semi-monthly meeting of the City Council of Walcott, Iowa, was held on Monday, the 15th day of February, 2021, at Walcott City Hall. Mayor John Kostichek called the meeting to order at 6:00 p.m. Council members present: Everett Bieri, John Brockmann, Lisa Mengler, Jacob Puck, and Larry Smith. City staff present: Jeff Blake, Josh Geigle, Lisa Rickertsen, and Paul Stagg. Due to COVID-19, this meeting was held electronically via conference call, permitted under the Iowa Code, Chapter 21.8, which allows an electronic meeting where members may participate remotely when an in-person meeting is impossible or impractical. Call-in information was provided to the public on the meeting agenda notice.
Approval of Agenda. Puck moved and Smith seconded to approve the agenda. Motion carried.
Introduction of Audience/Public Comments. No comments.
Public Hearing. Mayor Kostichek opened the public hearing on the maximum property dollars levy for fiscal year ending June 30, 2022 (FYE 2022). Rickertsen stated the notice listed the maximum property tax levy dollars at 1.45% higher than the current year, with a maximum levy tax rate at 10.27100. In order to receive the same tax levy dollars as the current year, the levy tax rate would need to increase by .04143, to 10.12383. Rickertsen reported on residential county reassessments and state rollback figures and reduction of the City’s valuations due to multi-residential property rollback percentages and commercial tax increment financing rebates. No written or other oral comments were received. Mengler moved and Puck seconded to close the public hearing and resume the regular meeting. Motion carried.
Consent Agenda. Smith moved and Bieri seconded to approve the consent agenda including the invoices, minutes from February 1, 2021, and January 2021 financial reports. Motion carried.
Tammy Buhman – Sanitary Sewer Issues. Tammy Buhman reported on a recent sanitary sewer issue at her residence on January 26, 2021. Buhman requested reimbursement of an invoice from Roto-Rooter since the issue did not clear until the City jetted the main line. Stagg presented a time line of events to Council and reported it is difficult to tell where the blockage was since there are no manholes on this line. He did report that installation of a manhole is included with the Downey Street water main project. Brockmann stated he felt Buhman’s problem was due to issues from a past water main project near her residence. Stagg responded that prior issues were resolved and not related to this. Brockmann moved and Smith seconded to reimburse Tammy Buhman for the invoice from Roto-Rooter as presented. Motion carried.
Park Board Recommendations.
- Tournament and Game Fees. The Park Board recommended increasing the tournament fees to $50 per field without lights and $70 per field with lights each day and initiating a fee of $10 for each non-tournament game except for Walcott Athletic Board and Tri-County games. Mengler moved and Puck seconded to approve the tournament and game fees as recommended by the Park Board. Motion carried. Tournament fees are not charged for Walcott Athletic Board sponsored tournaments.
- Pond Riprap. Stagg reported on the Park Board’s recommendation to place white rock around approximately 350’ of shoreline. Discussion was held on a weed barrier and size of rocks. Council consensus was to have Stagg pursue bids to place rocks around the pond as recommended by the Park Board.
- Splash Pad Shelter. The Park Board recommended to not allow the splash pad shelter to be reserved. Concerns were conveyed regarding lack of shade and seating and taking food onto the splash pad area. Smith moved and Puck seconded to leave the shelter open to the public and not allow it to be reserved. Motion carried.
Resolution 2021-8, Approving the Maximum Property Dollars Levy for FYE 2022. Mengler moved and Bieri seconded to approve Resolution 2021-8. Roll call ayes: Mengler, Bieri, Smith, Puck, and Brockmann. Motion carried.
Ordinance 516-21, Amending Chapter 167 Pertaining to Floodplain Management Overlay Districts and Standards. This Ordinance was drafted by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and the City needs to adopt it prior to FEMA’s adoption of the new floodplain maps. Smith moved and Puck seconded to approve the third and final reading of Ordinance 516-21.Roll call ayes: Smith, Puck, Mengler, Brockmann, and Bieri. Motion carried.
Police Department Report. Chief Blake provided the monthly call report and an update on staffing.
Public Works Department Report. Stagg presented his department report including the following:
- Replaced approximately 73’ of defective sanitary sewer main off the end of N. Grove Street. The defective pipe was a corrugated plastic pipe and it was replaced with an approved pipe material for sewer mains.
- Repaired a broken storm sewer pipe on N. Downey Street, near the Lincoln Street intersection.
- During the last meeting, Brockmann accused Stagg of wasting City money, after he obtained a quote for budgeting purposes, as requested, to replace the Fire Department roof. Stagg presented examples of equipment purchases, which he felt was wasteful spending in the Public Works Department during Brockmann’s tenure. Stagg also presented information indicating his fiscal responsibility, including a drastic reduction of overtime and part-time hours in the Public Works Department since his employment.
- As requested by City Council, Stagg presented an email from the roofing contractor regarding their professional recommendation of the fire station roof. Assuming conditions have not changed and only worsened, they recommended replacing the roof area. They referenced a letter to the City, which Stagg distributed copies of, dated June 9, 2015, where they suggested replacing the existing roof area in lieu of spending money on repairs that will not alleviate any leaking issues. Josh Geigle, Fire Chief, presented photos of tar leaking on a fire truck and several areas where the roof is leaking.
Brockmann stated he felt the equipment purchased was not wasteful and that the current staff doesn’t maintain some right-of-ways and alleys which were previously maintained. Stagg responded that he follows the Alley Policy, adopted by City Council before his employment, as well as prior direction by the City Council to not have staff mow private property. Mayor Kostichek and Council Members Smith and Mengler expressed their frustration with Brockmann’s continued and unwarranted criticism of Stagg.
Fire Department Report. Geigle reported the electrician will be fixing the siren when they are here working on other city electrical jobs. Mengler inquired if it would be beneficial to replace the fire department roof with a pitched roof. Following discussion, council consensus was for Stagg to obtain a quote for a pitched roof for budgeting purposes. Smith left the meeting at 6:53 p.m. for another meeting.
City Clerk Report. Mengler moved and Puck seconded to set the FYE 2022 budget public hearing date for March 15, 2021, at 6:00 p.m. Motion carried. Rickertsen inquired about council’s thoughts on bee keeping restrictions within city limits. Following discussion, Rickertsen will research and report at a future meeting.
Mayor Report. Mayor Kostichek reported on an email he received from a resident complimenting the Public Works Department staff for their efforts this winter season.
Council Member Comments.
- Brockmann expressed concerns again about snow around fire hydrants that haven’t been cleared. Stagg agreed that it’s important to have access to hydrants, however he didn’t notice any ports that weren’t accessible. He stated that due to the recent weather and time constraints it’s difficult to clear all 146 hydrants. Following discussion, Geigle stated he will again post on social media asking residents to clear the hydrants adjacent to their property.
- Mengler encouraged Brockmann to work with the rest of the council and staff for the betterment of the community.
- Puck took issue with Brockmann’s criticism of staff and thanked Stagg for his hard work and department improvements. Puck stated he considers him to be the best Public Works Director the City has had.
Puck moved and Mengler seconded to adjourn at 7:14 p.m. Motion carried. All votes on motions were unanimous, unless noted.