Regular Council Meeting
February 5, 2024, 6:00 P.M.
Community Media Center
Mayor Wayne Peach called the meeting to order. Council present were: Josh Brenneman, Jake Ellwood, Dave Goedken, Candy Langerman, Mary Phelan and Scott Brighton. Also present were City Administrator Russell Farnum, City Clerk Sally Hinrichsen, Public Works Director Nick Kahler, Library Director Faith Brehm, Ambulance Director Lori Lynch, Water/Wastewater Superintendent Jim Tjaden, Police Chief Britt Smith, Park & Rec Director Jacob Oswald and City Engineer Patrick Schwickerath. The public was invited to attend the meeting in person, or to participate in the meeting electronically via “Zoom Meetings” or “Facebook” and were encouraged to communicate from the chat or message.
Brighton moved to approve the agenda, Ellwood seconded, roll call was unanimous.
Brenneman moved to approve the consent agenda; Phelan seconded. Roll call was unanimous.
Mayor opened the public hearing regarding Easement for 250 South Cedar Street. No public comments were received. Ellwood questioned if the easement was for the existing garage only. Farnum advised it was and not allowed to expand on the easement. Farnum recommended approval pending final legal review of easement. Mayor closed the hearing. Brighton moved to approve Resolution #2024-19 approving easement for 250 South Cedar Street, pending final legal review by City Attorney. Phelan seconded, roll call was unanimous.
Mayor opened the public hearing on proposed plans, specifications, form of contract and estimate of cost for the Monticello South Water Tower Repainting Maintenance Project. No public comments were received. Mayor closed the hearing. Ellwood moved to approve Resolution #2024-20 Approving the proposed plans, specifications, form of contract and estimate of cost for the Monticello South Water Tower Repainting Maintenance Project. Phelan seconded, roll call was unanimous.
Mayor opened the public hearing on Preliminary resolution of Necessity pursuant to Section 384.42 of the Iowa Code covering the 2024 N. Chestnut Street Reconstruction Project. No written comments were received. Farnum advised City Engineer and himself held an open house in January and invited the property owners. They received comments at that time. Farnum reviewed the timeline for the project and what would be assessed. Jackie Jacobs, 205 N Chestnut, asked if they could bore underground to place lines in an attempt to save her trees. She would prefer no sidewalks along her property, but she knows it is City policy. She stated that she wanted to keep the pavers, as it adds charm to the street and not putting pavers back in would de-value her property. Erich Eggers, 215 N Chestnut, inquired how wide the sidewalk would be and engineer stated 5-foot. He inquired what Tuetken and he were to do, as they don’t have an alley to access their property during construction. They were advised the contractor has provisions to put in gravel by driveways. The only time they would not be allowed to drive on the property is when surface is curing for about a week. Joe Tuetken, 221 N Chestnut, didn’t see the need to have streetlights in the middle of the block. Mayor closed the hearing. Langerman moved to approve Resolution #2024-21 Resolution of Necessity for the 2024 N. Chestnut Street Reconstruction Project, Brenneman seconded, roll call was unanimous.
Brighton made motion directing City Clerk to file certified copies of the Resolution of Necessity and Preliminary Plat and Schedule of Assessments with the County Treasurer of Jones County, and to adopt Resolution #2024-22Ordering Preparation of Detailed Plans, Specifications, Notice of Hearing, Notice to Bidders and Form of Contract. Langerman seconded. Roll call was unanimous. Farnum stated Council can make changes and there is bid alternate related to period lights or using Alliant’s fixture and another bid alternate is related to using pavers instead of concrete. The intersections will be concreted either way.
Farnum stated Engineer has worked with the Contractor to get contract and performance and/or payment bonds for the Wastewater Treatment Facility Improvements Project and were sent to City Attorney for review. Engineer has worked with the Contractor to get contract and performance and/or payment bonds for the Wastewater Treatment Facility Improvements Project and all are now ready to go. Langerman moved to approve Resolution #2024-23 Approving the proposed plans, specifications, form of contract and estimate of cost for the Monticello South Water Tower Repainting Maintenance Project, Phelan seconded, roll call was unanimous.
Langerman moved to approve Resolution #2024-24 Approving and Levying an Assessment for 231 North Cedar Street for Sidewalk Repairs, with 4 % interest. Phelan seconded. Roll call was unanimous.
Ellwood moved to approve Resolution #2024-25 Approving and Levying an Assessment for 345 East Third Street for Sidewalk Repairs, with 4 % interest. Langerman seconded. Roll call was unanimous.
Farnum reported Gary Hughes is purchasing a property that includes two mobile homes from Don “Red” Hughes. This property was subject to a pre-annexation agreement and is zoned C-1, General Business. The proposed new lot contains the vacant northern half of the large lot on which Hughes Garage is located, plus an existing 20’ wide lot to the far north end of the property, combining the two into one parcel of 1.44 acres. The Planning and Zoning Board reviewed this request and unanimously recommended approval. Langerman moved to approve Resolution #2024-26 Approval of Plat for Parcel 2024-11, Brighton seconded, roll call was unanimous.
Farnum reported Tyler and Jayme Freye are hoping to build a new veterinary clinic on a 2-acre parcel near Oak Street Logistics. Roger Stephen has proposed to subdivide off the parcel, with a plat known as Brad Stephen’s Third Addition. The Planning and Zoning Board reviewed this request and unanimously recommended approval. Goedken moved to approve Resolution #2024-27 Approval of Plat for Brad Stephen 3rd Addition. Brenneman seconded, roll call was unanimous.
Phelan moved to approve Resolution #2024-28 Rescinding Resolution #2024-12 Scheduling Public Hearing on City of Monticello 2023/2024 Fiscal Year budget amendments for February 19, 2024 at 6:00 p.m. Goedken seconded. Roll call was unanimous.
Langerman moved to approve Resolution #2024-29 Approving the hiring of a Monticello Ambulance On-Call Advanced EMT and setting wage. Brighton seconded. Roll call was unanimous except Brenneman who abstained being the new employee is his wife.
Phelan moved to approve Resolution #2024-30 Appointing Commissioners to the Eastern Iowa Regional Housing Authority From the City of Monticello, Iowa. Brenneman seconded. Roll call was unanimous.
Judy Tuetken, 322 N Maple St, President of Riverside Gardens stated they were awarded a REAP Grant for the wetlands and without that grant they would not have the wetlands. She strongly recommended City accept the REAP Grant, as it is a gift. Shannon Poe, 920 W First St, and former Park employee, stated about 8 years ago she was on the Heart and Soul committee and Mary Phelan was also on the committee, which put together their five value statements after they talked to thousands of community members on what matters and how they could make Monticello better. Council adopted the value statements, one of which was related to Recreation, outdoor recreation and trails. COVID showed the value of outdoor recreation. Abby Slauson, 722 Southhaven Dr and Park & Rec Board Member, stated she supports trails and doesn’t understand why council would not accept the grant. State is working to connect Cascade to Anamosa. They asked for funding for trails, you have to have goals and plans, in order to get grants. She feels Council is not favorable toward Park & Rec Department. Monica Lyons, 308 N Gill St, runs on Willow Trail and felt City should accept the free money to expand the trails. Mary Grace Lyons, 308 N Gill St, stated she bikes on Willow Trail and runs cross country there. It would be better if the trail was longer. Katie Farrowe, 401 W First St and Park & Rec Board member, stated she supported everything that Shannon Poe had stated and felt City needs more trails. She stated City to look forward when making decisions and feels trails are essential for the Community to thrive. Brenda Hanken, 291 N Pine, stated she is not against trails but not ready to spend $2M on trails. Alyssa McNally, 635 N Maple St, stated trails would bring revenue to the small businesses. She said she was almost hit twice while running along the roadways and trails are safer to run on. Johnny Russ, 23004 150th Ave, stated on City Website the City’s motto is “Live, Work and Play”. He asked Council to remember the motto as they make decisions on how to move forward to grow our community and tax base. Brian Wolken, 321 E Third St, stated City could not spend the money, but they need to invest in the community. Tom Yeoman, 102 Shomont Dr, stated three seated Councilmembers ran on several points, one of which was “Let’s make change happen” and suggested they accept the funds and help the City budget. Goedken stated the resolution allowed Park and Rec Director Oswald to submit grant, which included a 10-year plan. Council never saw the application. Ellwood stated the need to understand his stance and he is not against the grant. Phelan stated City shouldn’t turn down the grant. Goedken stated engineers are working on plans to connect Willow Trail to First Street, but need to bond for the project. He stated the application talked about 2 ½ miles of trails from High School to end at the Park & Ride Park and asked if the school was aware of this. Oswald stated he talked to Dr. Jaeger about the plans. Oswald stated that they started discussion in August and Goedken was at both meetings when discussed and was emailed the grant application. Shannon Poe stated you hire department heads and appoint Boards to get grants and stated they should have faith in their people. She stated when she worked for the Park & Rec, she felt the distrust in the Park & Rec staff. Katie Farrowe stated if you are going to micromanage the staff then you better read your emails.
Mayor asked for a motion on Resolution rejecting a REAP Grant Award for Trail Property Acquisition, which died due to a lack of a motion
Brenneman moved to approve Resolution #2024-31 approving a REAP Grant Award and authorizing the Mayor to execute the REAP grant award agreement. Langerman seconded. Phelan asked if they could add the agreement dated February 5, 2024. Brenneman moved to amend his motion to approve Resolution #2024-31 approving a REAP Grant Award and authorizing the Mayor to execute the REAP grant award agreement dated February 5, 2024. Langerman seconded. Roll call was unanimous.
Farnum stated Deb and John Lacock live at 305 E. 5th Street. The 6th Street ditch runs easterly along the rear of their property. They have two dead ash trees, one on each side of the ditch. They acquired a bid for removing the trees totaling $3,000. They would like to do a cost share of 50/50 with the storm water funds to remove the trees. Goedken would like to get maintenance agreements with everyone along the Sixth Street ditch to maintain and keep ditch cleaned out. Goedken moved to approve the Request by Deb and John Lacock for tree removal expenses for 50/50 Storm Water funds as it is in the 6th St. Ditch. Ellwood seconded. Roll call was unanimous.
Phelan liked the wording of the grant policy but felt the amount should be raised to $20,000 to $25,000. Abby Slauson, 722 Southhaven Dr and Park & Rec Board Member, questions how they would handle deadlines and felt Council would be micromanaging department heads. Goedken stated he talked to the City Attorney who stated if the grant application was inconsequential , Council doesn’t need to see it. If there is a long-term commitment or acquiring property, they should see it. Brenda Hanken, 291 N Pine, said the $2M was a red flag for her. Brighton stated City is not obligated to spend $2M on the trails. Brighton and Langerman stated they do not want to micromanage the department heads. Peach questioned what incentive do department heads have to work on grants? Phelan suggested removing the following paragraph: Whereas, the City Council wants to review the requirements prior to preparation and submission of grants, loans, and/or other financial assistance. Farnum stated staff is looking for a procedure the Council wants them to follow. Goedken felt they could prepare the grant application, but Council would need to approve it before submitting the grant. Ellwood questioned how much Council wants to micromanage staff. We will lose staff and need to let department heads do the job and stop micromanaging. Mark Spensley, 285 N Pine St, stated he was on the Fire Department for 26 years and during that time they hired a grant writer to write several of their grants and received millions of dollars in grants. Council is micromanaging department heads. Ellwood stated there is a lot of misunderstanding, need to take this as a learning curve and let the staff do their job and move forward. He stated Council needs to have faith in staff and Boards, and not micromanage. No action was taken on resolution requiring Council approval prior to the preparation and submission of grant and/or financial assistance application. Brighton stepped out of meeting but returned for the work session.
Ellwood moved to approve Ordinance #772 Amending the Code of Ordinances of the City of Monticello, Iowa, by Adding a New Section Authorizing Use of the State Income Setoff Program”, third and final reading. Brighton seconded. Roll call was unanimous.
Brehm stated SSB 3131 was introduced at the State Senate and will defund all Libraries and will revoke the requirement to have a vote to change the Library ordinance. She advised they have the seed library again this year.
Goedken suggested a letter be drafted from the Council in opposition to SSB 3131. Farnum stated he could prepare a letter for Council. Goedken moved to direct Farnum to draft a letter related to the SSB 3131 to send to legislators, Ellwood seconded. Roll call was unanimous, except Brighton who stepped out of meeting.
Kahler advised the new dump truck was delivered. The streetlight on First Street is repaired. Alliant allowed City to control box for the lights on their pole to get the downtown lights working until City can make further accommodations.
Oswald stated soccer, baseball, softball and t-ball signup in open now and swim lessons will open soon. They are working on 24 activities for adults. Friends of the Parks will meet on Tuesday.
Council took a short break before the work session on the FY 2024-2025 budget. No action was taken.
Ellwood moved to adjourn the meeting at 8:39 P.M.
Wayne Peach, Mayor
Sally Hinrichsen, City Clerk/Treasurer