Council considers Corn Belt agreement

Cooperative asks members to help pay for upgrades of electric lines

Webster City officials are considering an agreement that could pay dividends, but could also mean the local government would be responsible for paying off debt incurred by an electricity supplier.

The City Council on Monday received information on the proposed Combined Transmission System Improvements Agreement from Greg Fritz, chief executive officer of the North Iowa Municipal Electric Cooperative Association.

Webster City and 12 other northern Iowa towns in that association buy their electricity from Corn Belt Power Cooperative.

Fritz said Corn Belt Power Cooperative is asking the association’s members to help pay for a major upgrade of the electrical transmission lines.

Although Webster City is a member of the association it has a different relationship with Corn Belt Power Cooperative. City Manager Daniel Ortiz-Hernandez said the local community owns the transmission lines that link it to the generating plant, but those lines are maintained by Corn Belt. He said the city’s agreement with Corn Belt is in effect until 2054.

Ortiz-Hernandez said signing onto the new proposed agreement would give the city the option of having another transmission system to connect to in the future.

Fritz said under the agreement, Webster City would receive 19.72 percent of any dividends earned on the project.

However, the city would also be backing 19.72 percent of the debt incurred to complete the transmission line upgrades.

“I don’t know why it would behoove us to get involved with this,” Councilman Jim Talbot said.

The council took no action on the proposal Monday.

In other business, the council gave final approval to a law that would allow organizations to trap stray cats, take them to a veterinarian to be neutered and vaccinated against rabies and then release them again. Those organizations must receive prior written permission from the city government before starting such a program.

The council voted unanimously with no debate to approve the measure. In doing so, it set aside the usual procedure of having to approve an ordinance on three separate readings for it to become law. Monday’s reading was the second one for the trap, neuter and release proposal. Councilman Logan Welch asked if the third reading could be waived, and the rest of the council agreed.

Also on Monday, the council:

• Approved a plat for about 60 acres of land southeast of the water tower that’s near U.S. Highway 20. The land may become the site of a new wastewater treatment plant.

• Scheduled a town hall meeting for 7 p.m. April 30 at the Webster City Middle School.

• Set June 8 and June 9 as the dates for the 2018 cleanup/drop-off event at Webster City Middle School. Items will be accepted from noon to 4 p.m. June 8 and from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. June 9.