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home : news : news Wednesday, December 13, 2017

10/11/2017 Email this articlePrint this article 
City settles lawsuit by candidate
Calamus council hears insurance company to pay over old complaint

By Larry Lough
Executive editor

CALAMUS - A years-old lawsuit filed by a current city council candidate will be settled for less than $1,500.

Clerk Laurie Ganzer told the city council last week that the city's insurance carrier planned to pay $1,447 to Dennis G. Starling, a former Clinton County supervisor, to settle his complaint.

The lawsuit involved water in Starling's basement that he blamed on a backed-up storm sewer, according to Public Works Director Duane Levien.

Levien, who expressed disappointment with the settlement, said an investigation showed Starling's property was not even hooked up to the storm sewer.

Levien also said he was concerned that he might personally be the target of a lawsuit by Starling, who had made numerous complaints against the city.

"Should I hire my own lawyer?" Levien asked the council.

"Why would he sue you?" Mayor Terry Steines asked.

Before the conversation went further, the board voted to go into a closed session to discuss the pending litigation. The Observer was asked to leave the meeting.

According to minutes of the meeting published Saturday in the newspaper, the closed session lasted only 10 minutes.

Ganzer said the settlement was the decision of the insurance company, which will pay the money to Starling.

Starling is one of four candidates for two open seats on the council in the Nov. 7 election. Another of the candidates in Levien's wife, Denise.

Steines and two council members whose terms are expiring, Lavern Boedeker and Julie Kalfas, chose not to run for re-election.

Tyler Leibold was the only candidate to file for the mayor's job. The other two council candidates are Mark Buckner and Cutis J. Reed.

Cleanup deadline set

In other news, the city set a deadline of Oct. 11 for a property at 600 Davenport St. to be cleaned up.

Ganzer told the council that the sheriff's office had served an abatement notice to the owner on Sept 10, giving him a month to remove the garage on the property and trim back brush along the sidewalk and street.

If the owner does not meet that deadline, the city will hire a cleanup crew to do the job, the council decided. The owner would be billed for the work, Ganzer said, and if he doesn't pay up, the amount will be added to his property tax bill.

"It's going to cost him," the clerk said.

Sewer work nearly finished

Marc Ruden, engineer with IIW of Dubuque, reported state-mandated work was nearly complete on the sewer plant and collection system.

The city borrowed $1.76 million from the state to do the project, which more than doubled local water bills. The low-interest loan has a 20-year payback.

Ruden said once work was completed, possibly this week, the city would be asked to inspect the site and "accept the project as completed."

Miller Trucking and Excavating of Silvis, Illinois, was hired in June 2016 to do the work.

Council also approved IIW to do design work for downtown sidewalk pavers, a project being funded by a $130,000 grant.

Some concern was expressed about whether the grant would be enough to do all the work the city wanted.

"Then we'll just scale it back to fit the budget," Ruden said.

The engineer said the width and length of the sidewalk project could be adjusted to contain costs.

Code violators won't be jailed

In other business, the council:

Waived procedural rules to introduce and approve a change in a local ordinance that had called for jailing of people who violated local codes.

"They can still get a fine," Ganzer said, "but they can't go to jail for it."

Approved tick-or-treat hours for the city to be 6-8 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 31.

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