Council Meeting Minutes 12-5-16

Regular Council Meeting

December 5, 2016

The City Council of the City of Fayette, Iowa, met Monday, December 5, 2016, at 5:30 p.m. in the Fayette City Hall pursuant to law and rules of said council, Mayor Wenthe presiding.

Roll call: Present - Council members Kragnes, Larson, Sandhagen, Wulfekuhle. Absent - Nefzger.

Moved Kragnes, seconded Larson, to approve the consent agenda consisting of the regular meeting minutes of 11/21/16 and the Claims List of 11/22/16 – 12/5/16. On roll call, all ayes, carried. Moved Kragnes, seconded Larson, to approve the agenda as presented. All ayes, carried.

Mayor Wenthe spoke with council member Nefzger and Nefzger advised she may be missing a few more council meetings over the next few months as she has some temporary conflicts, but she will try and get to as many meetings as she can. At the last meeting the council appointed Tristan Beyer to the Fayette Ambulance Service. Tristan is a National Certified EMT.

Upon the mayor’s recommendation, moved Kragnes, seconded Wulfekuhle, to reappoint Jeff Bradley for another two years as the City Treasurer for Fayette. All ayes, carried.

Moved Kragnes, seconded Wulfekuhle, to reappoint Jason Rohde as the Fayette Fire Chief for 2017, upon the mayor’s and fire departments recommendations. All ayes, carried.

City Administrator/Clerk McGrane reported on November 22nd, Public Works Director, Jerry Hildebrand, and himself met with Dan Ashworth with Municipal Supply, Inc. They discussed the steps they need to take to prepare for implementing radio transmitters on water meters. McGrane had a short training on November 23rd with Jayhawk Utility Billing to start setting-up automatic payment withdrawals and online payments. On November 30th McGrane met with Jim Willis with Iowa Municipal Benefits Plan to discuss a new program created to assist Iowa cities provide health and other benefit packages to their employees that compare to what larger municipalities and private organizations are providing today. Willis will also look into options for our current employee health insurance coverage to see if we can lower the cities rates, yet still provide good coverage for employees. McGrane met with Laura Roussell with Black Hills Energy about programs they offer to customers. Floyd Alber donated $300 to the City of Fayette to be used for flowers on Main Street.

Police Chief Pisanti advised they are closely monitoring parked vehicles making sure they are following the snow ordinance. The department has already issued over thirty parking citations and have towed a few vehicles.

Moved Kragnes, seconded Larson to introduce Sam Whitehead, the Fayette County Economic Director, to provide an update on what he has been working on. Whitehead is continuing to explore establishing a mental health clinic outside Clermont, but funding has been a hold-up. There was a market study done around two years ago when NE Iowa Behavior Health was looking for a home in West Union for patients in need of health services to live in while they were being rehabilitated or treated. There are very few beds in our region for mental health patients, so there is a need for such a facility. The biggest impact to our area for bringing in this type of facility would be more employment opportunities, the construction of the facility would bring people, and it would benefit patients and their families. This is more of a community development than strictly economic development.

Whitehead has also been working on coordinating business trainings through NE Iowa Business Network and their partnership with NICC. They hosted a social media class last spring and a customer service class in November. The classes were funded by a grant from USDA, but the funds were not granted to them for this next year. They are hoping to get funding again for these classes in 2018. Mayor Wenthe asked where the classes are normally held. Whitehead advised usually the RAMS Center in Oelwein since they are through NICC, but Whitehead has tried to get them to hold the classes in other cities. Wenthe said UIU hosted some in previous years and the Fayette Opera House may be another place in Fayette to hold the classes. Whitehead advised going forward he will continue to push them to host trainings elsewhere. There is a Quickbooks training at NICC in Calmar coming up. If anyone is interested, contact Whitehead and he will get the information about the class to them. Whitehead mentioned people looking to start a new business or current business owners may request free business consultations through the University of Northern Iowa Small Business Development Center. The center can help existing businesses, for example reviewing their budgets, and can assist those interested in starting a business look for start-up funds. NICC also partners with a group to provide the same service. NICC counselors are looking at putting together training sessions and they can hold the sessions in our area. If there is a specific need that a business or businesses would like to learn more about, the counselors can put a presentation together about the topic and answer questions.

Whitehead advised there were two new businesses that came in to West Union. Whitehead is working with Home Base Iowa and looking into having businesses sponsor a veteran. The business would help show the veteran around town and introduce them to key services. He thought Boarders Inn & Suites in Fayette may have an agreement to provide a reduced rate to veterans if they were looking at resources around town.

Whitehead met with City Administrator McGrane the previous week to discuss some downtown revitalization ideas. Wenthe advised there has been recent concerns from the council about the loss of businesses in town and open store fronts. Wenthe is hoping to discuss with the council next year and during budget planning about getting more aggressive with offering incentives. Wenthe hopes Whitehead will help us when there are opportunities he is aware of or if there are better ways we can market the available buildings and facilities. Whitehead advised some ideas we can do as a community to advertise the space and show it off would be making sure the store fronts are clean and open so people can visualize what will go in there. Having a community potluck, get-together, a movie, or something else in the available buildings to get people in there may also help. Tax abatement is a budget neutral option as far as an incentive to offer new businesses willing to build or add onto an existing building. For example, the city could refund 75% of the new businesses taxes for the first five years, or something similar. Typically, five to ten years are offered for tax abatement incentives.

Whitehead advised he gets notified if a new business or industry is looking at building or expanding and has filed with the state as well as the requirements they are looking for. If Fayette County has something that meets their requirements, then Whitehead notifies the administrator of the city and the owner of the facility. Whitehead advised he hasn’t had any notifications come in. Main Street Iowa is suggesting cities create business cards that community members can pass out when they are on trips beyond their region to businesses that would be a good fit for their communities. It would let the business know if they are looking at expanding to look into their city. Whitehead said he looked into a business to see if they would expand into one of our downtown store fronts, but it was too close to their other business. Whitehead suggested releasing a small survey asking what kind of businesses do people want to see in our town can help with ideas of what type of business to pursue.

Wenthe mentioned Fayette does not have an active chamber or betterment foundation. If Whitehead knows of any best practices that other communities have done to help get people engaged in their chamber process to let us know. McGrane asked if Fayette County has a county-wide chamber since there are quite a few smaller towns in Fayette County making it hard to have a city chamber that only a few members are a part of. A county-wide chamber could maybe rotate events among the towns that participate. Whitehead said that could be a good idea and may not be too difficult to start.

Chief Pisanti advised the council he is going to pull the approval to purchase vehicle mounted radio and repeater for the new police patrol vehicle from the agenda so he can get more information.

There being no further business, moved Wulfekuhle, unanimous, to adjourn at 6:12 p.m.

There is no place like home. And there is no place like Fayette.

11 S. Main Street


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