City council discusses wages, stop signs

Friday, March 2, 2012

At the January city council meeting, Sheriff Gary Launderville told the council that two local businesses were cited for selling cigarettes to minors in November and pled guilty and paid fines. He said the state also assesses a $300 civil penalty against establishments that are cited and that money can be retained by the city by making an application to the state; if no application is made the money will go to the state. If the businesses don't pay the penalty in the time allowed, they will lose their license to sell tobacco products for 14 days and will still have to pay the fine. At that time, the council agreed to send in the application to allow the money to be retained.

During the February meeting, Clem LeDoux came before the council saying he was one of the businesses that was cited. He said he does not feel he should be assessed a civil penalty of $300 for selling cigarettes to a minor because the proper process was not followed. Deputy Danielson noted that the Iowa Code specifically states the penalty is mandatory and noted that he has pled guilty and paid a fine previously regarding the matter. The matter was tabled.

The city is still without a code enforcement officer and the council is still discussing whether the position should be full time or part time. Council member Ron Chapman said he is opposed to the position being full time because the position is somewhat seasonable and the high cost of making it full time. It was decided the job would remain part time at this time. In the job description, prepared by council member Pam Henderson, the council decided to add that the employee must be a U.S. citizen.

The council is in the beginning stages of preparing its budget. Personnel committee members Pam Henderson and Rob Hach have discussed wages and salaries of city employees for the 2012-2013 fiscal year. The committee recommended and the council approved raises for the street department (with the exception of Ron Chapman) as follows: street superintendent - $2.50 per hour, street employees - $2 per hour. Henderson moved to increase the city clerk's pay rate by $2.41 per hour, which totals $5,000 per year.

Council member Brian Walsh complimented city clerk Tom Huseman for his service.

"He's not just a city clerk - he's the city manager. He's the head man for the city and wears many hats. We've had minimal tax increases and that's because of him. I respect his opinion. He tells us when we need to slow down our spending. It's because of him we're sitting in the position we're sitting in. Other towns should be envious of having someone like him."

The wage increases follow several years of no/minimal raises for city employees and health insurance costs being reduced.

The "bereavement leave" and "family emergency leave" policy was looked at and updated for the city employees.

There have been many issues brought up regarding the parking on the east side of Main Street by the high school gym. Currently the city is restricting parking, for safety reasons. The council would like to see left turns only coming out of the parking lot behind the school which will be safer for children being picked up by their parents after school and will cut down on congested traffic. The issue will need to be discussed with school officials.

There was also discussion whether there should be a permanent stop sign on the corner of Main Street and 5th Street to replace the revolving sign. While there is not high school students at that building any longer, the preschool students are using the old high school building. That issue will again be discussed at the March 5 Alta City Council meeting.