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Electric rate hike passes final reading

Council votes to move ahead with housing rehab grant

November 6, 2012
Anne Blankenship - Managing Editor ( , The Daily Freeman Journal

The City Council of Webster City Monday night approved the third and final reading of a proposed ordinance which will increase the base electric rate for all customers by 20 percent, which represents an increase to residential bills of about $3.80.

Councilwoman Linda Conaway cast the sole no vote on the measure. She explained that while she understands the rates need to be raised to meet the costs, she preferred to have the kilowatt hour charge increased rather than the base rate.

Councilman Jerry Kloberdanz explained that he favored the base rate increase as it would allow customers to more easily budget.

"I know that if we raise the kilowatt hour charge it's a little harder to budget what it's going to cost you because you don't know how many kilowatt hours you're going to use," he said.

The City Council had considered three different options - increasing just the base charge by 20 percent to come up with a 5 percent increase overall; raise the kilowatt hour charge by 6.75 percent or both the base and kilowatt hour charges could be increased by 5 percent. The increase will bring in an anticipated $475,000 to help offset increases from Corn Belt Power Cooperative over the past year. The city had tried to absorb much of those increases without passing the entire percentage on to customers.

Kloberdanz also said that in the past, the residential and commercial had helped subsidize the industrial customers.

"We changed that philosophy a long time ago. Now if people want to change back to that in order to attract business and industry, they need to tell us that," he said. "At the time, I heard that people were tired of subsidizing industry."

City Manager Ed Sadler said customers would likely begin to see the new rates on their December billings. He also said that additional increases were expected from Corn Belt and the council would likely have to revisit the rates in December or January.

Housing rehab

Shirley Helgevold of MIDAS discussed the proposed submittal of a Community Development Block Grant application for the purpose of housing rehabilitation in Webster City. She explained that the program is for low-income households located on Second and Superior Streets.

"We're looking for nine units to rehabilitate and we'll be asking for approximately $309,991 from the Community Development Block Grant to rehabilitate those homes," she said.

She said homes in the program will be rehabilitated to the minimum Iowa Housing Standards as well as the city of Webster City's housing standards.

"We will use which ever standards are more stringent," she said.

None of the residents of the homes will be displaced during the rehabilitation, she said, unless lead is found in the home.

"If there are lead issues, we will notify them that the will have to leave while those issues are addressed," she said. "Financing for that is part of the program that we are applying for."

A total of $24,999 can be spent on each home, depending upon the repairs and upgrades needed, she said.

In order to apply for the grant, the city needed to commit to $27,000 in assistance or $3,000 per home, she said.

The council voted to move ahead with the grant application process and agreed to commit the $27,000 to the project. Helgevold said the application is due Dec. 12.

"I think it looks good for us," she said.

New tenant

The Webster City Senior Citizens Center will have a new tenant. The Central Iowa RSVP North will rent the front office space in the center. The council approved a lease agreement for $100 per month plus Internet and phone costs. Sadler told the council that thanks to federal funding, the RSVP office is expected to be open about 30 hours, likely Monday through Thursday.

He added that he had discussed the possibility of other space in the community should the center be closed in the future.

Local senior citizens have been working on ways to increase the usage and raise funds to keep the center open. The closing of the center was mentioned as a possible cost-saving measure during budget discussions earlier this year.



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