Talk of a fourth sergeant rank within the Waterloo Police Department was a surprise topic of Monday’s meeting of the Waterloo City Council.
WPD Sgt. Eric Zaber addressed the mayor and council members about past and present unsuccessful attempts to have longtime officer Cliff Haddick promoted to sergeant.
“I didn’t want to pick this forum, but I’ve asked repeatedly to have the police committee convened and for reasons unknown, the mayor refuses to do that,” said Zaber, who serves as the WPD’s Fraternal Order of Police representative.
Zaber said he tried to discuss this matter during the city’s personnel relations committee meeting in October but said Mayor Tom Smith would not add the matter to that agenda.
The WPD currently has three sergeants on its force: Zaber, Trin Daws and Dave Midkiff. City ordinance currently only calls for three sergeants in the department.
Based on a 12-hour scheduling setup, there are four patrol squads within the 16-person department and one sergeant per squad would be ideal, Waterloo Police Chief Jeff Prosise said.
Officers wishing to be promoted to sergeant within any department must first take a sergeant’s test, which includes an interview with police commissioners and a written exam. The next such test takes place Tuesday, with seven WPD officers planning to participate.
Seniority on the force and prior military service are factors that add points for any officer taking this test, and the police chief – while not mandatory – may award up to 10 points to any candidate.
The last sergeant’s test for the WPD took place three years ago, the candidates list from which expired this past December. Haddick took the test the last time it was offered.
“It’s a little bit of a mystery as to why we’ve been short a fourth sergeant now for over two years, that we’re suddenly creating a spot in 2022,” Zaber said.
Zaber said he wished to have Haddick, who has served nearly 17 years on the department, be promoted immediately to the rank of sergeant through an ordinance amendment created from an ordinance committee meeting.
Money saved through the recent departure of two WPD officers would cover Haddick’s increased sergeant’s salary of roughly $1,600 from now through the next budget start date of May 1, Zaber claimed.
A sergeant makes around $3 per hour more than a patrolman.
“It would appear that the problem of the budget is eliminated, that there (are) ample funds in this budget to promote Officer Haddick,” he said.
Zaber added that Haddick is ranked as the top choice for sergeant amongst his WPD peers.
Smith did not respond to Zaber’s remarks at the meeting, but told the Republic-Times on Tuesday that after talking with Chief Prosise, a fourth sergeant will be chosen in the next budget cycle.
“Whoever is No. 1 on the sergeant’s test, we’ll try to promote to sergeant,” Smith said.
The mayor added that a police committee meeting will be held in March to discuss this topic and other WPD budgetary matters.
Zaber said the last police committee meeting took place back in 2019.
“If you don’t want to talk to us, just tell us,” Zaber said to the mayor about the lack of movement on this matter. “Be honest about it.”
Smith said there was no money in the last budget cycle to make a sergeant promotion, but with the upcoming sergeant’s test and new budget approval process getting underway, this matter should be settled soon.
Route 3 biz signs
Also on Monday, the council approved an amendment to city code on business signage along Route 3.
“(It’s) making the signage along Route 3 from Northwinds to Vandebrook aesthetically pleasing,” Waterloo Zoning Administrator Nathan Krebel summarized. “We will be eliminating freestanding signs and we will be enforcing monument signs for single business lots along Route 3.”
Krebel said this change came about after he began researching local municipalities following a December zoning board meeting on proposed signage for the soon-to-be-built Scooter’s Coffee drive-thru location at Route 3 and Plaza Drive.
“I realized the City of Waterloo is on the conservative side of ‘sign area allowance’ and I could make a trade-off of eliminating freestanding signs and allow up to 75 additional square feet of signage for monument signs,” he said. “This is only for new sign permits; all existing freestanding signs along Route 3 are grandfathered in.”
The prior monument sign ordinance allowed a maximum height of six feet. The maximum monument height along Route 3 is now 12 feet, depending on elevation grade from the roadway. Lots that are the same or higher in elevation would have a maximum height of six feet unless they push their sign away from the property line.
Every five feet away from the property line would provide an extra one foot of height, up to 12 feet in total height.
As for the Scooter’s special sign permit request, that matter will be taken up by the zoning board on Feb. 17.
The council observed a moment of silence for the family of 19-month-old Zoey Jane Rongey, who passed away suddenly last week.
Zoey’s parents are Alex and Jill Rongey. Alex is an employee with the City of Waterloo.
“He has our thoughts and prayers from the city council,” Smith said.
The council, by a 6-2 vote, approved an amendment to city code regarding unvented appliances.
“We’re protecting the citizens of Waterloo from unvented appliances, but the only ones we’re protecting are the ones building new homes,” Alderman Steve Notheisen said.
Alderman Jim Hopkins and James Trantham voted against the measure.
The amendment as approved now states that “no unvented gas appliances, with the exception of kitchen ranges, clothes dryers and ventless gas fireplaces installed in accordance with NFPA 43 and Gas Industry Guidelines, may be installed or operated within the city.”