Washington Evening Journal
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Neighbors Growing Together | Oct 20, 2014

Council OKs employee raises, Community Center progress

By Mary Zielinski | Jul 16, 2013

KALONA — In a unanimous vote, the Kalona City Council Monday approved a 3.58 percent raise for all city employees that, for 2013-14, will total $230,017, an increase of less than $9,000 from the current $221,790.
Wages are Ryan Schlabaugh, city administrator, $66,821 (prior, $64,251); Karen Christner, city clerk, $44,912 ($42,370); Ken Kempf, streets superintendent, $42,182 ($40,560); Bob Christner, water, wastewater superintendent, $37,913 ($37,170), and Matt Jacoby, facilities superintendent, $38,189 ($37,440).    Single insurance remains unchanged at 90/10, but family insurance changed from 25/75 to 75/25.  Additionally, the city clothing allowance (for city uniforms and shoes) went to $250 annually with any additional being the employee’s responsibility.
Council member Dave Bentley asked if the employees met the goals previously set for the merit raises. He leaned three had exceeded the goals and two had not met quite all the goals, but  this was balanced by their exceeding in other duties.
The raises, which are less than the initial 4 percent budgeted, were recommended by the Finance Committee.
The council also was unanimous in moving forward on a possible Community Center project that could see a partnership with the Mid-Prairie School District.  A meeting was set for 7 p.m. Tuesday, July 16, with Martin Gardner, architect of Marion to consider preliminary design work/plans.  Cost for the services is $7,850, and Herington suggested if the preliminary figures (for the project) “are decent numbers,” the city should move ahead.  The council members concurred.
Schlabaugh told the council that Mid-Prairie has an estimated figure of $3.4 million for the gym it hopes to build near the middle school, the area where the Community Center also would be.  The gym is the district’s project, not the city’s, and is not contingent upon the city partnering with the district.  Last week, Mid-Prairie reviewed a list of 22 projects, deciding on 12, with an estimated total cost of $14.2 million to $14.5 million.  Schlabaugh indicated that public input for the possible plan has been “favorable.”
Schlabaugh also reported about the English River Watershed Authority Management meeting with area farmers and the Iowa Soybean Association July 9 in Wellman that “had abut 30 people there and a lot of interest.”  The proposed Management group could have upward of 22 members from cities, counties, soil and water conservation groups and commodity groups like the Soybean Association, joined in a formal 28E agreement.  In fact, Schlabaugh expects the formal document will be ready for signing in August, and he assured the council it is quite different from the controversial one involving the Regional Utility Service Systems (RUSS).  With a formal agreement, the ERWMA can move on to seeking a  $150,000 federal grant in September to aid with planning and management of flood mitigation along the 640-mile English River watershed. He stressed that the group will have assistance from the Soybean Association and the Iowa Flood Center, among others. The 28E draft agreement has been prepared by the Kalona city attorney, William Sueppel Jr.
In other business, the council:
• waived the second reading and went on to the third and passage of the water and sewer rate increase which will provide funds for bonding, interest and other fees for the proposed $1.1 million sewer project that will see repairing of some 26,000 feet of lines;
• approved purchase of a new pickup truck, a 2013 Sierra 1500 for a total of $25,260 for the vehicle and options to replace the 1998 Ford that has 85,000 miles and brake and other problems.  Funds will be from LOST revenues that currently total $218,266;
• approved appointment of Cam Conrad and Frank Slabaugh to the library board for terms expiring in June 2019;
• authorized Slabaugh to get figures for street improvements on K Avenue, Seventh, 12th, Eighth Streets and the Eighth Street cul de sac.  Preliminary estimate for all work is about $250,000; and
• learned that the Iowa Department of Transportation plans to resurface Highway 1 from the DME railroad underpass in Washington north to the entrance of Menard’s in Iowa City.  Bid letting will be Oct. 13 and work is to be done in 2014.  The project will continue the resurfacing that was done in Washington to the Highway 92 intersection on Highway 1 last year.  The segment that will take the project from Highway 92 to Kalona’s C Avenue will be handled by the Mt. Pleasant office and resident engineer Jeffrey Johnson.

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