Several residents were present during the Public Forum portion of Tuesday's Cherokee City Council meeting regarding the heavy rains and flash flooding of June 27.
City Administrator Don Eikmeier asked those present to state their concerns and he would address them when everyone had a chance to speak.
Millie Bruhn, 215 Euclid, said that every time there is a massive rain the city has to place pumps in the manhole to keep up with the water. This last flood they pumped for five days. She asked, "will this ever be corrected?"
Steve Stewart, 716 Tomahawk, said he had two feet of water in his basement and by the time he went to get a sump pump, took the long way around because the highway was closed, and got home, the water had gone down. He had heard that the city had opened a valve or started a pump. He asked why weren't the pumps turned on sooner before he got water that damaged his basement and personal items?
Marty Zauhar, 313 Poplar, said that when the Doherty Addition was built the ground was raised 2-4 feet, which causes drainage problems for existing homes. He thanked Council Member Dan Morrow for helping with sandbags in the addition.
Larry Harmon, owner of rental property at 338 E. Willow, had sewer backup with three feet of water in the basement. He lost a furnace and water heater and feels the city is somewhat responsible.
Jane Schmillen, 325 E. Willow, went to the fire station and was declined help and when she requested sandbags was told they couldn't be released to residents. She also heard that the sandbags that were available were rotten. "Where is the emergency team that is supposed to check these things out?" asked Schmillen, who added that whenever there is a heavy rain, she has to plug her sewer. She said maybe the city needs to consider another buy-out program.
Carla DeYoung, 408 E. Main, realized when she bought the house that she was in the flood area, but when a fireman came around at noon she was told there was no decision on the release of sandbags.
Eikmeier then addressed the concerns. He said the pumping required in the Euclid area is a matter of the sanitary sewer system, which runs through the Beech Street lift, becoming overloaded because of heavy rains and flooding. All city wastewater facilities were operating during the entire period. He is asking engineers to see if there is any means of building anything to offset this problem. He is also talking with State and Federal officials to see what the alternatives are. There may be the option of a buy-out program.
In reference to Tomahawk, there were no valves turned off or pumps not turned on to make the water go down faster. It was not caused by any action or inaction by the city. Even the best design won't accommodate a 6"-8" rain in a couple of hours, said Eikmeier.
The concern about the Doherty Addition causing drainage problems will be researched, according to Eikmeier. The East Willow sewer backup is a problem with that much rain and the June 27 rains were the greatest pressure on the system since 1993, according to the City Administrator. The city is still waiting for a federal designation before it will be known whether there will be funding available for loses. Eikmeier believes this designation will come through, however, there are no promises. He stressed that people need to document everything. It will most likely be several weeks to a couple months before anything is known about funding.
In addressing the sandbag concern, there were no rotten sandbags. Sandbags are for public purposes first and they were then released to residents. He apologized to Schmillen if she didn't receive word that the sandbags were available.
Bruhn questioned not hearing from FEMA for several weeks or months and said she heard that FEMA has already been to Aurelia. Eikmeier said that was true and said that FEMA representatives have been in Cherokee a couple of times, but have made no decisions for any cities as yet.
Council Member Morrow thanked Mr. Zauhar for his hard work in helping with the clean-up in the south addition.
In other action, Mayor Mark Murphy read a proclamation honoring the 5th annual Veteran Appreciation Day to be held on August 14. The Cherokee County Veteran's office will be hosting the Traveling Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Cherokee County Fairgrounds on August 13 and 14.
A motion by Greg Stieneke, seconded by Linda Burkhart, unanimously approved the second presentation of an ordinance regulating overnight parking on certain streets in the Central Business District.
On a motion by Stieneke, seconded by Morrow, the council unanimously waived the third presentation of Ordinance No. 553, regulating overnight parking on certain streets in the Central Business District and ordered its publication.
On a motion by Burkhart, seconded by Jim Peck, the council unanimously approved the second presentation of an ordinance amending junk vehicle regulations.
A motion by Stieneke, seconded by Burkhart, unanimously waived the third presentation of Ordinance No. 554, amending junk vehicle regulations and ordered its publication.
A motion by Burkhart, seconded by Peck, unanimously adopted Resolution No. 10-16, amending the Personnel Policy by providing for an open-enrollment period to add dependents to the city's health insurance plan
Mark Buschkamp, CAEDC Director, was present to request supplemental funding for marketing analysis. Through a new funding formula, the city's annual contribution was reduced from $21,000 to $10,935. However, Buschkamp was expecting annual contributions from the hotel/motel tax as was done in past years, which totaled $8,500-$10,000/year. Since the city has since restructured the use of the hotel/motel tax, CAEDC no longer receives contributions from that source. As the city provided funding at the $21,000 level in the 2010-11 budget, a motion by Stieneke, seconded by Burkhart, authorized supplemental funding to CAEDC of $10,065. Roll call was: AYES: Stieneke, Peck, Morrow, Burkhart. NAYS: Mallory.
The council was asked to consider accepting deed to the property at 335 E. Cedar St. The city has condemned the house and it was scheduled to be demolished on June 28, but with the flooding this has been delayed. There is no benefit for the city to own the property and there is no recommendation from the staff to accept the deed. On a motion by Stieneke, seconded by Mallory, the council unanimously denied acceptance of a deed to the property at 335 E. Cedar.
A motion by Peck, seconded by Stieneke, unanimously appointed Betty Berigan and Ruth Hayes to the Library Board effective 7/1/10.
Street Superintendent Jim Agnitsch was present with a quote of $46,376.80 from Blacktop Service Co. to oil and chip seal portions of several streets -- Euclid, East Willow, Union, West Cedar, and 5th streets. The contractor is in the area and would like to proceed as soon as possible. A motion by Stieneke, seconded by Burkhart, accepted the proposal from Blacktop Service Co. Motion carried.
On a motion by Stieneke, seconded by Burkhart, the council went into closed session at 7:52 p.m. to discuss the I.U.O.E. labor contract as per Iowa Code Chapters 21.5(c) and 20.17(3).
No action was taken in closed session.