Council approves amendment to Black Hills agreement
Document removes requirement that gas company must keep an office in WC
The City Council of Webster City approved resolution authorizing an amendment to an agreement originally signed with Aquila Energy in March 2005.
Aquila now operates as Black Hills Energy. The amendment was approved for review by the council and was reviewed by City Attorney Zach Chizek, according to Karla Wetzler, planning director.
“It’s ready for your approval to incorporate the amendment into the original agreement, changing the Aquila name to Black Hills/Iowa Gas Utility Company LLC,” she said. “Also paragraph 10 was deleted.” The paragraph pertained to Black Hills maintaining a facility in Webster City in whatever their future plans will be, she said.
Councilman Jim Talbot questioned whether the document would require Black Hills to maintain a business office in the community. He said the original agreement stated Aquila would maintain an office that would be open to the public during “reasonable business hours.”
“The new proposal strikes paragraph 10 and basically talks about there will be people available for emergencies,” Talbot said. “My question is — will there be an office where people can go in, make inquiries, pay bills and conduct normal business?”
Michael Wright with Black Hills, said Hy-Vee takes payments for Black Hills.
“Our intent with this amendment is to not have an open office,” Wright said. “We have 135 communities in Iowa that we serve. None of them have open offices. We’re in 7 states and Webster City is the only location that offers that service.”
Wright said the methods of payment have changed greatly since 2005 when the agreement was established.
Black Hills also had a purchase agreement on the agenda Monday night. The company offered to purchase 5.8 acres of city land in the Southeast Development Park No. 4 for the construction of a new warehouse space.
“Along with having this new space, we would like to not have the open office facility,” Wright said.
“There’s a lot of people in the community that do not have access to computers,” he said.
Wright said the another open office in Decorah was closed two years ago and the customers had adjusted to using other methods of paying their bills.
“For our business it fits us better to not have the open office,” Wright said.
The amendment passed on a vote of 4 to 1 with Talbot voting no.
The sale of the land to Black Hills/Iowa Gas Utility at a cost of $132,000 for the 5.8 acres was approved following public hearing on the matter.
Two other property sales were approved Monday night.
A public hearing was held on a purchase agreement with J. Larson Homes LLC for eight lots in Brewer Creek Estates 5th and 6th addition. The developer is requesting four lots in each addition.
Mike Segner, president of WCF Financial Banks, spoke on behalf of the sale and said his bank was supporting the project.
“Three banks in town are supporting this project — Availa, First State Bank and WCF. We’ve pooled our resources on a spec project which is a little risky, but we believe in Webster City, the development out there, what Webster City is doing,” he said. “We don’t plan to stop at 8. It starts with eight and it will continue forward to try to build it out.”
“We just wanted you to know that the banks are supporting this,” he said.
The council approved the purchase agreement with J Larson Homes.
The third sale concerned a property in Lot 13, Block 68. The city had demolished a vacant dwelling on the property last year.
“Now, we have an offer from Ruddy Lester to purchase the property for $1,500 and closing costs,” Wetzler said. Lester has adjacent properties to the one in question.
“It’s in the flood plan and he knows he can’t build on it. There’s a lot of restrictions but he’s fully aware of that,” she said of the buyer.
The council approved the sale.
In other business, the council approved the purchase of five sets of turnout gear for the fire department and approved additional funds in the amount of $7,642.60 for a new phone system for city hall. The current system is more than 20 years old, according to city officials.