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Mt. Pleasant News   Wash Journal
Neighbors Growing Together | Jun 25, 2018

Keosauqua council debates overtime, minutes

By Rusty Ebert, Ledger correspondent | Dec 20, 2017

KEOSAUQUA – The Keosauqua City Council met Dec. 12.

The council approved a resolution authorizing the abandonment process against real property located at 210 Lucas St. The city states that the property, a trailer house, has been abandoned by Sue Casteel. The resolution authorizes Craver and Grothe, LLP to execute proceedings to accomplish the abandonment process pursuant to Iowa Code.

• The council approved a resolution setting employee wages effective Jan. 1. According to Mayor Nasseem Hesler, a 3.5 percent across-the-board increase was recommended. The hourly wage scale that was adopted is as follows: City superintendent - Jim Chambers, $28.82 per hour; Assistant superintendent - Bob Heald, $22.69 per hour; Assistant superintendent II - Jake Poling, $19.21 per hour; City administrator/city clerk - Joy Padget, $25.88 per hour; Deputy clerk - Samantha DaVolt $16.04 per hour; Parks and rec director - Jon Thornsberry, $14.49 per hour.

“We’ve done three percent in the past, but they have gone above and beyond this year,” Hesler said.

“They are worthy of the wages,” Hesler said.

“I would agree. This year has been a tough year for all staff and they went above and beyond what we ask of them and what we hired them for,” said Councilor Larry Shipley. “And I think the salaries ought to reflect that.”

Councilor Chuck Lazenby complained about overtime and said it should be considered.

“I understand that,” Shipley said. “Until this year, I think their overtime has always been excellent. I know there was overtime this year, but I never could see anytime that overtime could not be paid for. It was all approved. They stayed the extra hours to get things finished.”

“They accomplished a lot of projects and did a lot of things that have never been done before,” said Hesler. “They are not doing it to get time and a half, they are doing it because they are dedicated employees trying to get their jobs done for the city.”

• Lazenby also asked for revisions to the November minutes regarding the comments made by council member Melissa Mahon.

Mahon was not re-elected in last month’s city election. During the November meeting, she singled out criticism of Lazenby in a prepared statement, which was included in the minutes.

“So what is your problem with the minutes?” asked Hesler.

“It has no place in a meeting like this. It was political theater,” Lazenby answered.

“But that’s her opinion,” Hesler said.

“This was political theater gone awry,” Lazenby said. “That’s not what was said at that meeting. You never mentioned my name.”

Mahon said it was and said it was from a prepared statement which mentioned his name.

“I specifically mentioned your name,” Melissa told Lazenby.

 

Others weigh in

Other council members said they had no problem with that being included.

Council member Dave Atwood stated, “That’s what she said and it was at the meeting.”

“Chuck, it’s almost too late. It’s already been in the paper and if we strike it out, then it’s in the paper again,” Hesler said.

Lazenby also alleged that city superintendent Jim Chambers “was kinda out of control” at the November meeting. The comments were made in response to late evening phone calls made by Lazenby to city clerk Joy Padget.

Lazenby also said that the recording of the meeting wasn’t available afterwards.

“I am just saying it’s convenient that it wasn’t made available to people who requested it,” Lazenby said.

Padget reaffirmed to Lazenby why the recording wasn’t available, as she had told them at the end of the November meeting.

“And at the end of the meeting, I said there’s only 15 seconds recorded. And I’m looking at this constantly to make sure it’s recording,” said Padget.

“You can’t accuse someone of destroying the tape without knowing,” Padget said. “If you would just listen for just one second. At this meeting, we tested it and it dumped off after 15 seconds, just like it did before. I know you won’t accept that, but that’s the truth.”

Hesler defended Chamber’s actions.

“I don’t think that anything he said was unacceptable,”

She told Lazenby, “It’s your behavior is what was unacceptable, which led him to say what he said. Your behavior regarding the phone call.” said Hesler.

 

Phone call

According to Lazenby, he called Joy Padget in the late evening after she said she went to bed “and asked who OKed the street sweeper and how much did it cost, and I came in and asked the same thing the next morning.”

“You did the same thing to me,” Hesler told Lazenby. “I had a recorded voice mail that 10 people listened to and 10 people could attest what you said. And it was not calm.”

“I didn’t say I was calm,” Lazenby said. Lazenby said that he had the same complaint last year about sweeping the streets before the fall festival.

“It didn’t come across the table for our OK. I don’t know what the threshold is to have it be OKed by the council. So it was a $1,000 down the storm sewer. They were doing it at 9 o’clock at night and it was roaring outside that night at my door. And I called the city administrator and mayor on the spot.”

“You can call me anytime; you cannot call her almost at 10 o’clock at night,” Hesler said.

“I thought we determined that last year [about not street sweeping],” Lazenby retired.

“That’s not right. It was just one person who determined that they should go after the street sweeper last year,” Hesler said.

“I thought we discussed it and decided and I was obviously wrong because someone proceeded with it this year,” Lazenby said.

 

Appointing city attorney

• Mayor Hesler recommended that the council consider appointing Nicole Cox, Centerville, as its city attorney. Currently, John Morrissey is city attorney. While the city is not displeased with the work Morrissey has done, Hesler said that Cox “specializes in what we are doing as a city. Her expertise is more suited to what we are doing right now.” Her billing rate “is a little more inexpensive,” Hesler added. The council will consider it at a future meeting.

• Hesler thanked Melissa Mahon for her service on the city council. “You dedicated countless hours out of your busy, busy life to the city and we are indebted to you.”

“We have a lot to be proud of,” Mahon said.

• Council approved adjustments to a July 2015, bid for proposed water and wastewater treatment improvements, made by Keokuk Contractors, Inc. The DNR started reviewing the pump diagram and prefab building in January of 2016, and French-Reneker said the DNR approved it. The council had requested a time extension to the construction permit and it was granted for up to one year. Since it has been two years since the bid, the increase in the bid for the prefab building and grinder pump will be $6,538. Matt Walker, French-Reneker Associates, Inc., said the increases are reasonable.

• Building permit for Douglas Roush, 903 Louis Street, for garage, was approved.

• Building permit for Cecil and Colleen Hamberg, 203 Monroe, for storage, was approved, with variance.

• Nuisance at 601 Franklin Street was discussed. There is scrap metal being placed behind the house. Council will send letter.

• Joy Padget, city clerk, told the council that the DOT expects to replace the culvert on Highway 1, near Pedrick Funeral Home in 2020.

• Application for tax abatement for Larry E. Shipley, 403 Chestnut Street, was approved. The tax exemption requested was a 10-year partial exemption.

• The council approved a resolution providing for the financial support of the Area 15 Regional Planning Commission, of which the city is a part. The cost is 47 cents per capita, for a total amount equal to $472.82. This goes towards covering financial operating costs of the commission from July 1, 2018, through June 30, 2019.

• The council approved a notice to be put in the paper that it would be accepting cash rent bids that are separated into two leases. The properties are to be planted in row crops. One is located along J40, on the city’s west side and the other is east of Highway 1 and south of the Des Moines River.

• The ordinance allowing residents to maintain poultry is limited to no more than six (hens) and limited to poultry not generally considered excessively noisy- chicken roosters, pea fowl and guinea fowl are expressly prohibited. It is generally limited to hens, females of breed.

• Klingner and Associates, PC, Burlington, gave an update on the asbestos inspection of 607 First Street (former Mike and Nikki’s) and 611 First Street (former Keller). Both structures were acquired by the city through an abandonment process. The city does not need a plan for removal of asbestos at the 607 First Street building. However, the 611 First Street building had deteriorated to the point that it was not safe to do a complete inspection. The roof had fallen all the way to the basement. As a result, DNR rules state that the city has to treat that as though it has asbestos. Therefore, the city would likely need a plan for that structure.

“That means we have to get rid of everything as though it was asbestos,” Padget said.

The city plans to demolish both buildings, as the cost to repair them to a condition to be occupied would be too much. The good news is, since the city does not have to have a plan at the Mike and Nikki’s building, they can use all of the DNR grant for asbestos removal on the old Keller building, which should cover much or all of the cost.

• City discussed nuisance at 1208 First Street, and 201 Chestnut Street. City will send letters. At 1105 Second Street, city will send letter to owners to see if they wanted to mow or have the city do it and charge it.

• Received $25,000 donation on the sports complex.

• Indian Hills building was discussed. Lazenby asked about plans. Mayor Hesler said it was same as before. If there are parties interested in purchasing it, they would offer it for sale. First, the city needs to close on it.

• The city will keep the ordinance allowing chickens in the city limits, opposed by Lazenby.

• The city adopted first reading of an amendment to the municipal code removing possibility of jail sentences and updating the schedule of civil penalties. The first offense is not more than $750 civil penalty; the second offense is not more than $875 and repeat offenses are not more than $1,000. Each day that a violation occurs, or is permitted to exist by the violator, constitutes a separate offense. Council set January 9 as date for public hearing on re-codification review.

• Padget updated the council on the purchase of the former Indian Hills Community College building. She said they are waiting on paperwork for the closing. Council member Chuck Lazenby asked about plans.

• The council approved an application for tax abatement for Dave Weller, 105 First Street. The homeowner chose a three-year full exemption.

• Liquor license for Villages of Van Buren.

• The council approved board/committee appointments. They are as follows:

Water/sewer: Harlan, Shipley; Streets/curbing: Shipley, Lazenby; Finance/personnel: Peacock, Shipley; Solid waste/drainage: Shipley, Lazenby; Airport: Atwood, Harlan; Safety supervisor: Atwood; Mayor pro-tem: Shipley; Fire board representative: Lazenby; KEDA board representative: Hesler; Cemetery representative: Atwood; 911 committee: Shipley, alternate-Peacock; Area XV representative: Peacock; Emergency management: Harlan- Alternate: Lazenby; Trees Forever representative: Shipley; Area XV Housing: Dave Kirchner (until December 31, 2019); City clerk: Joy Padget; Treasurer: Joy Padget; City superintendent: Jim Chambers; Zoning Administrator: Jim Chambers; Pool advisory: Peacock, Hesler; Parks and recreation: Peacock, Atwood; BOARDS AND COMMISSSIONS (six-year terms)- Planning and Zoning (effective July 1): John Keller (2017); Gary Kingsbury (2018); Marie Settles (2019); Ben Morris (2021); Joan Syfert (2022); Light and Power (effective January 1): Jay Goldstein (2018); Barbara Morris (2020); Chris McEntee (2023); Trees forever board (effective July 1): Twyla Peacock (2019), Marie Settles (2020), Naseem Hesler (2021); Jim Chambers (2022); Library board (effective July 1): Dave Kirchner (2018); Jamie Hurley (2019); Georgia Brecount (2021); Dick Breckenridge (2021); Heidi Bainbridge (2021); Mary Hart (2023); Amanda Maras (2023).

Lazenby recommended adding Carol Harlan to finance and personnel. Mayor Hesler recommended leaving it as is. Shipley said he had no problem with the makeup of that committee.

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