East Dubuque prioritizes infrastructure in goal-setting session

EAST DUBUQUE, Ill. — An East Dubuque City Council largely composed of new members helped chart a course for the city during a goal-setting session this week.

At the meeting, facilitated by representatives from East Central Intergovernmental Association, council members and city staff selected projects and initiatives they felt the city should prioritize, including street repairs, updated ordinances and other items.

City Manager Loras Herrig said city officials scheduled the goal-setting session — the city’s first since he assumed his role in 2018 — to let new council members weigh in on the city’s priorities.

Of the six members of the council, four have been in their position for only a few months. Jeff Burgmeier, Tim Fluhr and Brett Muir were elected in April, and Chad Biermeier was selected in May to fill the seat vacated after former Council Member Marty Werner died.

“The previous council said, ‘These are your priorities,’ but now we have four out of the six who are new members,’” Herrig said. “… We’re starting with a blank slate tonight of what this council thinks are our goals going forward.”

The meeting began with a discussion of the city’s recent accomplishments and current challenges. Top concerns included a declining city population and a need for infrastructure improvements, particularly for the city’s streets and water and sewer systems.

After discussing more than 40 potential initiatives and projects, council members and city staff voted for their top priorities by placing a sticker next to the projects listed on a poster taped to the wall.

Items that received a high number of votes included updating and enforcing city ordinances such as yard maintenance and snow removal policies, completing an annexation study for neighborhoods outside the city and creating a plan to tackle street repairs.

“I would vote heavily to get the streets done … because there are so many streets in East Dubuque that are in dire need,” Burgmeier said.

The council also agreed that several projects that are planned or already in progress, such as new fire and police stations and a new water tower, should remain a priority. All three projects have been approved for loans and are scheduled to go to bid this fall.

“We need to support the police department and the fire department, because that’s the heart of this town,” Council Member Randy Degenhardt said.

Herrig said ECIA will consolidate the results of the session into a report that city officials will communicate to citizens via social media and mail in the coming weeks.

“This session was (intended) to bring our existing council members and our new council members onto the same page,” he said. “… I think our crew is ready to go, and we’ve got a strong start moving forward.”