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Cherokee City Council approves 1-year labor contracts

Friday, April 16, 2010

Ordinances passed calling for 2-percent fee on gas/electric

The Cherokee City Council, as discussed in closed session Tuesday night, approved a labor agreement with the I.U.O.E. Local 234 for a one-year contract; 2.5% across-the-board wage increase; and health insurance deductibles paid by the employee of $650 per employee and $1,300 per family. The contract will take effect July 1, 2010.

Also as discussed in closed session Tuesday, the Council approved a labor agreement with the Cherokee Policeman's Association for a one-year contract; 2.5% across-the-board wage increase; and health insurance deductibles paid by the employee of $650 per employee and $1,300 per family. The contract will take effect July 1, 2010.

In other action, on a 3-1 vote, the Council approved waiving the third presentation of an ordinance establishing a 2% franchise fee on natural gas. Council member Mick Mallory said he would prefer to delay the third reading of the ordinance to give citizens time to comment; however, no one on the Council has received any comments from the public on this issue and the majoroty feltt there has been sufficient press on the matter.

Mayor Mark Murphy then called for a vote on Ordinance No. 549 establishing the 2% franchise fee and ordered its publication. Council members Jim Peck, Linda Burkhart, and Dan Morrow voted for the motion, and Mallory voted against it. Council member Greg Stieneke was absent.

The Council also approved the second presentation of the ordinances establishing a 2% franchise fee on electricity and natural gas, with all four Council members present voting for the measure.

The Council also approved 3-1 waiving the third presentation of Ordinance No. 550, establishing a 2% franchise fee on electricity, and ordered its publication. Mallory was the lone dissenter.

The following comments were made during Tuesday's opening Public Forum. Marty Zauhar, 313 Poplar, said that after hearing the Council was considering a West Cherry Street project, he feels that their addition (Parkview) is always being pushed aside. There are many streets in the addition that need attention and he especially noted that the streets leading to the Doherty Addition, where the city is trying to sell lots, are in sad shape. This is not a good first impression, said Zauhar. He also commented about the area between the Parkview and Rock Island Additions as not having consistent maintenance and the storm sewer intake is too small to handle the runoff and it gets quickly plugged with debris.

The Council didn't disagree with Mr. Zauhar and said that money is always an issue, and that they are not trying to ignore any part of town, but they have to prioritize.

Sheila Zauhar, 313 Poplar, stated that there are also problems in their addition with the way people care for their property. She wants to be sure the Police Department checks this area for unlicensed vehicles and other debris. She also mentioned a house where a board was nailed up over a broken window.

Bob Christensen, 723 Tomahawk, feels the worst street in the addition is Hyland, with Sequoia between Hyland and Rock Island second, and Rock Island Avenue would be a third priority.

Mallory asked about the status of the cleanup of the property at 100 E. Willow St. Administrator Don Eikmeier said that some progress has been made. He also has heard that the owners may be moving out of town. On the matter of operating an auto body shop at this address, it is not allowed in the Central Business District. Mallory also asked about the status of the former Masonic building at 105 E. Willow St. The Administrator reported that the individual who owns it would like to sell. However, the building is in pretty bad shape and would require several hundred thousand dollars of work, or would have to be demolished. Council Member Burkhart said that Cherokee's historic preservation activist Jim Adamson is working hard to find an interested person who would restore it and there is the possibility of grants for historic preservation.

Administrator Eikmeier reviewed the plans for the enforcement of nuisance regulations such as junk and debris in yards, abandoned/unlicensed vehicles, etc. The Police Department has begun canvassing the entire city and will be issuing abatement notices. Residents then have 14 days to comply and if not done the City will abate the nuisance and possibly issue citations that could carry up to a $750 fine, but most likely will be around $100. It will take the Police Department about four weeks to complete the entire City.

The Administrator also reported that Fire Department personnel would do a similar process by inspecting the exterior of buildings. General letters of compliance will then be issued and citations if necessary. Occupied buildings will be the highest priority, followed by vacant buildings and then garages and out buildings.

The Council also approved a contract with the Office of Energy Independence for a $35,000 grant to replace traffic control lighting with LED lighting. After review by the City Attorney, a change to the schedule was approved with a start date after July 1, 2011 to allow budgeting for the city's 50% match.

The Council also approved a contract with PSS, Inc. for $20,000 to provide a topographic survey with street, sidewalk, signage, all utilities (as visible from the surface and through Iowa One Call) and other key features within the city right-of-way for the proposed West Cherry Street project.

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