Mt Pleasant News

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Neighbors Growing Together | Jul 15, 2018

New London Council rejects sewer rate increases

Citizens voice concerns over growing sewer bills
Aug 03, 2017

By Karyn Spory, Mt. Pleasant News


NEW LONDON — The New London City Council voted down a measure to increase sewer rates Tuesday night despite not receiving enough revenue to meet standards for the wastewater Treament Plant loan agreement.

The proposed sewer rate ordinance, voted down 2-3, would have increased the rates in order to have 10 percent of the plants expenses.

“Right now our loan payment is $330,000 a year so they need to have $33,000 excess revenues each year above their expenses,” explained City Clerk Kasi Howard. “They are not meeting that. They are also in the hole right now.” Howard said as of last month, the city was in the red by $18,000.

According to the proposed ordinance, monthly sewer rates would have had a $34 minimum charge. There would be an additional $11.50 per 1,000 gallons for the next 3,500 gallons of water used; $10.50 per 1,000 gallons for the next 5,000 gallons of water consumed; $9.50 per 1,000 gallons for the next 5,000; $8.50 per 1,000 gallons for the next 5,000; and all remaining usage would be $5.50 per 1,000 gallons.

Chance Davis, wife of councilman Tom Davis, asked why the city couldn’t use funds from a city CD to pay the debt.

“The fact of the matter is, the state says you must have 10 percent above what your loan payment is every year. Right now we’re not making it,” said councilman Dan Berner. “Yeah, we could use that CD to make up that $18,000, but we’re not making that yearly revenue. The money coming in is not $33,000 above (our expenses) every year, that’s why we’re doing this.”

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources ruled that cities must keep 10 percent of their expenditures in reserves. New London isn’t the only city looking to raise sewer rates in order to meet the state mandate, Mt. Pleasant and Burlington are also according to reports.

Council member Davis said he felt all of this could have been avoided had the city not “over built” the Wastewater Treament Plant.

“Wouldn’t it be more common sense wise if you take (the money) from a CD you already have and use that before you go and take (the money) from somewhere else? It’s really going to put a pinch on a lot of people,” said New London resident Billie Deck. “We are paying the highest rates of Mt. Pleasant and Burlington. We are way higher than either of those.”

Howard said the city had upward of $100,000 spread between three CDs. However, Council member Kirk Miller warned that using funds from a CD would not fix the overall problem as each year the city is not making enough revenue to save the 10 percent required. Miller added that moneys from CDs are often used in the case of a large unforeseen expense or a catastrophy.

“We still have to eat, we still have to live,” said Deck. “If I need more money I take it out of my savings and not take out a loan.”

In the end, only Miller and Berner voted for the rate increase. The measure failed 2-3.

In other financial business, the council also voted 2-3 against purchasing a new police vehicle. Police Chief Ryan Wilka said the department’s third vehicle had some issues and was looking to purchase a safer, more reliable patrol car. Wilka received quotes for both a new Taho and a new Explorer. The funds would have come from the police department funds.

Malott said he was disappointed the city had not received quotes for a pre-owned vehicle, as it would be half the price.

Davis preferences his statements by saying “I will support you guys for anything that’s reasonable.” However, he did not see purchasing a new police vehicle as reasonable. “I don’t see why you can’t fix the car,” he said.

Berner said the patrol car in question was used when the city purchased it. Looking at the condition of the car, he felt it was an item that would nickel and dime the city. “I don’t care what anybody says, you get what you pay for with a used vehicle. For something that is going to be responsible for our law enforcement guys to respond to your house, your house, anyone’s house,” he said pointing to his fellow council members, “you need to think about that and think about how you need to get them the right (equipment).”

The trailing arm on the vehicle had broken, Wilka said. He added the vehicle had over 73,000 miles and one of the doors has difficulty shutting.

“I feel a whole lot better if he’s out in high speed chases with something that I know is reliable,” said Miller as he made a motion to approve the purchase of a new, fully outfitted, Ford Expedition for $36,273. Davis, Malott and Staley voted against the purchase.

The council did approve the purchase of a salt/sand spreader for the Public Works Department. The cost for the equipment was $5,700 and would be purchased from Knapheide.

The city also authorized the purchase of a new furnace and air conditioning unit for the fire station. The heating and cooling system will be purchased for $6,557.73.

The New London City Council will next meet on Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2017, at 6 p.m., at the City Office.

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