Sewer, water rate hikes moves forward
Council approves second reading of proposed increases, but drops water surcharge
The City Council of Webster City took another step towards increasing sewer and water rates Tuesday night as the group met in regular session.
The council approved the second reading of the proposed sewer rate increase which calls for a 2 percent increase each year on the base and volume rates as well as implementing a new surcharge. Finance Director Dodie Wolfgram said that the surcharge would be used to help pay for capital improvements with the sewer utility, primarily for the new wastewater treatment plant.
The new wastewater treatment plant is expected to cost $30 to $40 million or more, she said. The surcharge will also be used to pay back an internal load for the purchase of the land where the treatment plant will be located.
“The surcharge will by no means pay for all of the new plant,” said Mayor John Hawkins.
“Regardless of whether it’s $30 million or $50 million, (the surcharge) is step one to help pay for it,” said Councilman Matt McKinney.
Council members approved the second reading of the water rate ordinance with a slight change to the plan. Councilman Logan Welch suggested that the proposed surcharge be removed from the water rate increase. Welch said that the surcharge would have been designated toward a new water plant, but that project is less urgent than the wastewater plant. He added that it was not yet known when the city would need to replace the water treatment plant.
The increases for the water rates have been a work in progress, as the council members tweaked the propsal at the last meeting.
“We redrafted the ordinance a bit at the last meeting, taking off some of the future hikes, because we don’t know as much about what we’ll need for the water system,” Welch said.
Welch also explained that the council had approved a staggered phase in of the new rates, if ultimately approved. While the sewer rates would take effect in August, the water rate increase would begin in January 2022.
The council voted Tuesday night to remove the surcharge from the water rate proposal. In approving the second reading of the ordinance, water rates would see a 50 percent increase to the base rate and a 15 percent increase in the volume rate. The second year would bring a 15 percent increase to the volume rate, with a two percent increase slated for years three and four.
The third and final reading of the two rate increase ordinances will be held at the next council meeting on July 19.