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Council passes first reading of ordinance to raise out-of-town water surcharge

By Kelly Terpstra,

The Charles City Council passed the first reading of an ordinance on Monday that would raise by 50% the pricing structure for users of city water outside the city limits on Jan. 1, 2020.

Currently the city charges an additional 15% on top of regular in-town rates for out-of-city users, meaning the surcharge would be raised an additional 35%.

“It would be a way to accurately reflect on what we probably should be charging,” said City Administrator Steve Diers.

Ordinance 1140 would also amend the 10- and 12-inch water meter access fee for out-of-town water users — which Diers said numbers about 10 customers.

Diers had said previously he surveyed other communities in Iowa and found their out-of-town rates ranged from a 20% to 100% surcharge.

He said if the rates for out-of-town customers were “tightened up” it might reduce the need for the annual 3.5% water and sewer rate increases that have taken place since 2008 in Charles City.

Diers said increased rates outside of city limits are common due to the typical added infrastructure needed to serve the areas.

“Those are the carrots for usually getting people and neighborhoods to annex into town,” he said.

Charles City’s monthly access water fee only goes to as high as an 8-inch meter rate.

One of the reasons for the creation of the 10- and 12-inch water access fees is the water main purchase lease agreement with Valero. That agreement, which was started in 2007 when Valero built its plant near Floyd, saw the city buy back that water main in yearly increments on a cents-per-thousand-gallon variable.

That contract runs out at the end of the year, and Diers said negotiations for Valero to use that main under a new water-meter access fee contract started last week. Diers said Valero is required to use 350 million gallons of water a year under the current contract.

“Not only will we own that water main, it’s ours to use however we see fit,” said Diers.

The council also agreed to approve a motion to participate in the possible hiring of an Iowa Association of Municipal Utilities (IAMU) field training safety coordinator who would be utilized among 11 entities of the North Iowa Safety Alliance, including Charles City.

The position would offer on-site safety training. Charles City’s share of the $130,000 annual cost would come in around $25,000, according to Diers.

The council approved the motion to not exceed $30,000 as part of the sharing operation.

Diers said cities are usually good about getting employees safety training, but making sure that training is followed and updated “oftentimes falls on the backburner.”

“They thought the hiring of a full-time position to do that for these various communities would help alleviate that problem and really put all of us in a better place from a safety standpoint,” Diers said.

The council also passed a resolution to apply for a State Revolving Fund loan of $17.17 million to be borrowed for creation of the new water resource recovery facility (WRRF).

If approved, the loan would be for 30 years at 1.75% interest to replace the 54-year-old current wastewater treatment plant.

Another resolution passed to authorize pricing and sales of trees near the construction site of the new WRRF plant on Shaw Avenue.

“Right now we’re looking to try and give away as many trees as we can,” said Diers.

Diers said some trees, many of them oak, have been given to the Charles City Community School District and Floyd County Fair Board so they can be planted on the fairgrounds.

“Of course if it’s anybody that’s a private entity, we can’t really give it away,” said Diers.

Other action taken at the council meeting is as follows:

• Homeowners at 605 S. Jackson, 300 S. Joslin, and 508 S. Iowa St. that participated in the 2012 CDBG (Community Development Block Grant) Owner-Occupied Rehabilitation program had their leans released on those properties after the council approved those resolutions. Two liens were for $24,999 and the S. Jackson lien totaled $24,137.

• A change order of almost $35,000 for the South Main/North Jackson HMA Overlay Project was approved.

• The council voted to direct the Planning and Zoning Commission to review the re-vacation of the alley in Block 1 of the Bartz Addition.

• Council members approved an art piece to be covered on the city’s insurance policy. The art work is titled “History Shaped” and is being created by Molly Barrett. The city will also provide general upkeep and maintenance on the piece. The City Improvement Association (CIA), along with the Charles City Chamber of Commerce, have worked with Barrett in coming up with the piece and would like to place it at Grace Larson Park.

• A two-year agreement with the Main Street Program in Charles City was approved by the council. The total the city pays to have that administered is $23,000 and that is funded from the Riverside TIF.

• The council approved the third and final readings of four separate ordinances that rezone property within the city limits.

The properties or areas involved are:

• The 400 block of North Grand (from Fourth Avenue to Fifth Avenue) to be rezoned from B-1 (business district) to R-2 (general residence district).

• A small area at the west end of Court Street, as well as the 1100 block and south half of the 1200 block of Court Street, to be rezoned from R-1 (single family residence) to R-2.

• The Avenue of the Saints Development Park would be rezoned from B-4 (highway service district) and U-A (urban agricultural district) to M-2 (general manufacturing district).

• Ordinance 1138 would amend Section XVIII of the Zoning Ordinance by adding alcoholic beverage processing and bottling as special use in the M-1 district.