The Cherokee City Council Tuesday night approved an annual net wage increase of 5.5-percent for Department Heads and non-union personnel for 2011-2012.
As part of the compensation package, all full-time employees, including Department Heads, with insurance coverage for spouse, children, or full family, will begin paying a portion of their health insurance premiums beginning Jan. 1, 2012. The employee will contribute 5-percent of the difference between single coverage and that of the spouse, children, or full family coverage they have enrolled in. The employees previsously did not pay any of their health insurance premiums.
Consistent with the contract agreed to with the I.U.O.E. union early this year, an annual net wage increase of 5.5-percent to be implemented in two steps - 4-percent on July 1, 2011; and 3-percent on Jan. 1, 2012.
According to City Administrator Don Eikmeier, the described raises will offset the contribution by the employee to the health insurance premium.
Eikmeier also told the Council that the City has compared the compensation package with other communities throughout Western Iowa and it will make "significant" steps toward comparability of Cherokee salaries with those other communities.
In other action, the Council ruled that there will be no more extensions for Leroy Schoon to develop two residential lots he purchased more than two years ago in the Doherty Addition for $1,000 each.
The City at that time established the artificially low lot price to encourage new construction in the Doherty Subdivision in the southeast part of Cherokee. A condition of the purchase was to rquire the owner to build on the lots within one year after purchase. The City has since given Schoon two one-year extensions to start construction and none has been initiated.
The Council unanimously agreed that Schoon either immediately relinquish the lots back to the City, or re-purchase them for and additional $1,000 each.
The Council also approved locating portable speed bumps on the paved road through Koser Spring Lake Park in an effort to slow traffic down. Citing park users, children, etc. being in harm's way of speeding motorists, resident Chad Carey has approached the Council on several occasions seeking some form of speed control through the park.
The Council approved the speed bumps on a 3-2 vote, with Council members Linda Burkhart, Mick Mallory, and Wayne Pingel voting for it, and Dan Morrow and Jim Peck voting no.
Eikmeier said the portable speed bumps can be purchased from R.J. Thomas Manufacturing of Cherokee for about $250 total and they would have to be removed for wintertime due to possible ice build-up creating a safety hazard.
On a 4-1 vote, the Council approved an amendment to a 28E Agreement with the Cherokee Airport Authority to change the allocation of 40-percent of the annual tax levy from "a reserve dedicated to the development of a new airport," to "a reserve dedicated to capitol improvements at the airport."
The request was made by CAA Chairman Kent Wenck, who told the Council rural communities seeking to relocate and build a new airport is no longer feasible and "unreasonable to even consider" in today's world due to exploding land costs, environmental regulations, Federal Aviation Authority standards, etc.
Morrow said he wanted to see the tax levy stay as is and the community look to the future for a new airport. Wenck said recent airport improvements and the proposed restoration of the 4,000 foot runway has positioned the Cherokee Airport into a very stable and efficient facility at its present location, and there's no need for a new airport anymore.
Burkhart, Mallory, Pingel, and Peck voted for the amendment change in the 28E AGreement, and Morrow voted no.
The CAA must also meet with the Board of Supervisors requesting that the County, too, sign off on the issue.
The remaining 60-percent of the tax levy is dedicated to airport operations and maintenance. The rural tax levy accounts for 80-percent revenues, and the City of Cherokee 20-percent. The other towns in the County are not included in the levy.
The Council approved a request to close East Main Street for Saturday's Little Sioux Summer Fest Street Dance, and approved a $1,239 change order for Schoon Construction's Oak Noll improvement project. Schoon informed the City that higher prices for plastic pipe and fuel require the change order fee, which would change Schoon's initial low bid of $65,117.50 to $66,356.50.
Eikmeier said he contacted the other two local contractors who previously bid on the project to see if they wanted to go to a new bid for the Oak Noll Drive project, and they declined.
The Council also approved a Resolution encumbering 2010-2011 appropriations totaling $20,000 to the 2011-2012 budget. A breakdown of those 2010-2011 budget (unspent) savings are $8,000 for a handicap lift at Bacon Aquatic center as mandated by the Federal Government. $5,200 for tree removal in Gillette Park largely for pine trees devastated by pine needle disease. $3,500 for a Recreation Department pickup truck, and $3,300 for Dolphin and pool blaster cleaners at the pool.