Cherokee's City Council Tuesday night approved the first reading of a proposed ordinance to increase sewer rates in the City, approved various Mayoral appointments, and presented the labor negotiations proposals for the City and for the International Union of Operating Engineers, and the Cherokee Policeman's Association.
The sewer rate increase is designed to put the City Sewer Fund into the black after continually running in the red due to recent mandatory upgrades at the Wastewater Treatment Plant and on-going maintenance of the sophisticated facility. The Sewer Fund was $24,000 in the red at the end of the past fiscal year June 30.
The new ordinance would increase the rates from the $6.37 (per month) current base fee to $8, and hike the commodity (volume used) fee 9-percent from the current $3.47 per 100 CF, to $3.79 per 100 C.F.
"These rates will move the Sewer Fund into a positive cash flow by the 10/11 fiscal year," noted City Administrator Don Eikmeier.
The Council approved the first reading on a 4-1 vote, with Council member Mick Mallory voting against the measure. Mallory said he preferred smaller increases spread out over a period of years.
The City last increased sewer rates in 2004 when more than $5 million in improvements and upgrades were required at the plant.
The Council approved several appointments to various Boards and Commissions, many as recommended by new Mayor Mark Murphy.
Appointed to fill two vacancies on the Planning & Zoning Commission were David Tallman and Al Carlson, who first responded to an advertisement for the positions. Nate Leidahl was appointed to the Board of Adjustment. Mike Fox was reappointed to the Aviation Authority.
Other reappointments include Ken Slater to the Landfill Commission, Dave Deedrick to the Siouxland Regional Housing Authority, John Meis to the SIMPCO Transportation technical Advisory Board, and Jim Adamson and Sarah Cook to the Historic Preservation Commission.
Council City Department Liaisons approved were Dan Morrow, Parks & Recreation; Jim Peck, Streets; Greg Stieneke, Wastewater; Mick Mallory, Fire; and Linda Burkhart, Water.
In addition, Stieneke was reappointed to the County REAP Board, Peck to SIMPCO Transportation Board, Mayor Murphy to Cherokee County Conference of Mayors, Burkhart to the CAEDC Board, Mallory to the County Damage Assessment Team, and Murphy, Eikmeier, City Attorney Wally Miller, and Peck to Labor Negotiations.
Burkhart was elected Mayor Pro-Tem, and the Chronicle Times was designated the official newspaper.
Among the askings in the IUOE labor contract proposal was a change from $8 to $10 for call-in pay, a 4.5-percent ATB wage increase each of the next two fiscal years, a change in the language concerning the City's Discipline Policy.
The Policeman's Association asked for a 4-percent wage increase, a 3-year contract versus the current 2-years, and an increase in life insurance from $10,000 to $50,000.
The City's proposal for the IUOE is for 0-percent ATB increase for the next 2-year contract, and the City will continue to pay 100-percent insurance premium for single coverage and 95-percent for employees with dependents. Health Insurance benefits would change from $10 per visit Co-Pay to $25 per visit, the individual deductible would change from $500 to $1,000, and the family deductible will change from $1,000 to $2,000.
For the Policeman's Association, the City proposes a 0-percent ATB increase for the next 2-year contract, plus the same changes in insurance as with the IUOE.
Negotiations are now under way and will continue for about the next month or so, according to Eikmeier.
In other action, the Council approved the second reading and waived the third reading to vacate an undeveloped alley off Clark Street, and denied a request from Barry and Lisa Carlson of 1711 Linden St. to be de-annexed from the City.
The Council also approved payment of $80,418.14 to Lundell Construction for a water/sewer line extension in the Doherty Addition to accommodate proposed new homes there. An estimated $35,000 of that total will be realized from a $5,000 per lot fee of the proposed residential lots in the subdivision.