Council approves three raises MondayCity also investigates location of shed
RIVERSIDE — The Riverside City Council approved a 3 percent wage increase to three of its public works employees at its meeting Monday night.
The three employees who will receive the raise are Kevin Engel, Bryan Lenz and Ronald Hembry. Their new salaries would be $50,086, $33,737 and $46,342, respectively, after the 3 percent increase. Hembry was given an additional 8 percent increase to bring his salary to $50,086, the same as Engel’s. All increases are retroactive to July 1.
Hembry was hired earlier this year. He had to go through an orientation period in which he needed to obtain training and certification in various tasks in order to obtain the pay raise. City Administrator Rusty Rogerson said Hembry has completed all the necessary training.
Councilor Nate Kasdorf asked the other councilors how they could discuss employee wage increases without going into closed session, since that is what the council does when it performs employee evaluations. Councilor Christine Kirkwood said the wage increase is something that can be discussed in open session.
Kasdorf said he had some comments about the wage increase but didn’t want to make them in open session. He said he would defer to the judgment of the employee committee that recommended the wage hike.
The employee committee consists of Kirkwood, Rogerson, Mayor Bill Poch and Councilor Ralph Schnoebelen.
In other news, the council considered a request from a Riverside homeowner to investigate a shed he thought was too close to his property line. Jeff Showalter lives at 140 E. Second St. and asked the city for help in determining if it was too close to his fence.
Rogerson wrote in a memorandum that the shed in question sits on skids. Rogerson wrote that he did not think the shed was in violation of city code. Terry Goerdt, Iowa City’s certified combination inspector who also works for Riverside, drove by the shed and wrote in a memo that he saw no problems with it.
The council talked about a property in town that is inhabited but in bad shape. The property is at 81 S. Boise Street. Rogerson sent a letter to the owner informing him that there had been numerous complaints about the property. Rogerson drove by the property and noticed large holes in the roof as well as trees growing through scaffolding.
“This appears to be a serious issue and we are concerned about your safety,” Rogerson wrote.
Rogerson wrote that there are programs available to assist homeowners, and that he would like to meet with the owner along with the mayor.
City Engineer Mike Hart also said the house on Boise Street was a dangerous building.
Kalona City Administrator Ryan Schlabaugh performed administrative services for Riverside while it was without a city administrator over the summer. Schlabaugh agreed to work for Riverside but his contract included no ending date, since Riverside did not know at the time how soon it could replace exiting City Clerk Missy Carter.
Riverside now has its own city administrator and city clerk. Kirkwood suggested that it was time to formally end Schlabaugh’s contract at the end of December. She said that, if the city wanted to hire Schlabaugh for any reason in the future, it could create a new contract at that time.
Councilor Bob Schneider said there was no reason to end Schlabaugh’s contract. He said Schlabaugh was essentially paid as a consultant and was only used when his services were needed.
Poch agreed with Schneider that the city should not end Schlabaugh’s contract.
The vote to end Schlabaugh’s contract failed by a vote of 1-3. Kirkwood voted in favor while Schneider, Kasdorf and Kevin Kiene voted against it. Schnoebelen was absent.
In his closing remarks, Rogerson informed the council that the city was owed $12,000 in outstanding water bills from its residents. He said that, because of the absence of full-time staff over the summer, delinquent notices had probably not been sent out since April.
The council approved the construction of a lift station, which will be done in two parts. Part I is the above-ground work, and it will cost about $366,000. Part II is the underground work involving the pipes and mains, which will cost about $180,000.
The council talked about whether or not to let its TIF district expire. Rogerson, Hart and the city’s bond attorney will have a conference call Wednesday to talk about whether to renew the TIF district or to let it expire. There was some debate as to whether the city had outstanding TIF debt or not, which Rogerson hopes to resolve in the conference call.