Council approves design work
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The Mount Ayr city council voted to move forward with two street reconstruction projects at their regular meeting Monday, December 1.
The council approved a professional services agreement with Garden and Associates of Creston for design work associated with the Garfield Street and Cleveland Street reconstruction projects.
The Garfield project would straighten two blocks of the street from Monroe Street north to Adams Street at the entrance to the junior high parking lot. The installation of a sidewalk is also included in the plan.
The agreement calls for $24,000 in design fees and another $30,000 in construction supervision.
The Cleveland project would resurface the street with eight inches of concrete from Highway 2 south to 240th Street, a distance of approximately one mile.
Cleveland Street is commonly known as the country club road.
The agreement with Garden includes $65,000 for design work and $85,000 for construction supervision.
In presenting the agreement for council approval, Garden engineer Austin Smith estimated the Garfield project could be completed in 40 working days with the Cleveland project taking about 80 working days to complete.
The council heard health insurance updates from Jana Belle of Group Benefits, LTD.
Belle presented two plans from United Health Care, the company that currently carries the coverage for city employees.
Belle told the council United Health Care is revamping their plan offerings for next year, adjusting deductibles, co-pays and other details. As a result, city employees cannot choose simply to renew their existing policies.
After answering several questions from employees present at the meeting, Belle said she would be available to answer further questions prior to the employees making their final decisions in December or January.
Paid time off
The council heard a proposal to move to a PTO (paid time off) method of accounting for employee absences in place of the current method of counting vacation days, sick leave, personal leave and other reasons for absence.
Paul Greufe, a human resource professional who has been working with the city to update employee handbooks and related policies, told the council the PTO model would relieve the city from keeping track of different types of leave. Instead, employees, with supervisor approval, would use their PTO bank to cover any absence.
Under the proposal, current employees would retain their accrued sick leave but have the remainder of the accrued vacation and personal leave place into their individual PTO fund for use as they see fit.
Greufe said current employees would not lose any time which they had already earned.
Moving forward, all new employees would come under the PTO guidelines and receive a total 40 hours per year of PTO spread over 12 monthly installments.
After one year of service, employees would earn 80 hours of PTO, with further PTO calculated on a sliding scale for long-time employees.
The council will act upon the proposal at their December 16 meeting.
In other business, the council:
• voiced their support of a catalyst grant application from Doug and Gina Still for renovations on the Timby Building on the northeast corner of the Mount Ayr square.
If approved, the grants supply state funds for improvements to commercial buildings.
The council received a second grant application, but that application was submitted past the published deadline.
• heard a quote to repair street lighting on Shellway Drive. City superintendent Brent Wise said he had received a quote from Swartzentruber Construction of Lamoni for $16,675 for boring for the installation of underground wiring and $12,750 for electrical work. The council will take formal action on the project at the next council meeting.