City Council considers sewer rates, fire service fees

Friday, May 10, 2019

Alta City Council held the first reading of ordinances to consider changing sewer rates, solid waste collection fees and fees for services from Alta Fire Department.

Ordinance 19-03 would increase the base sewer rate by $4, plus an increase of 75 cents per 1,000 gallons. Fee reductions of some equal amount, for both businesses and residents, are in consideration to balance the impact of the rate increase.

City Clerk Megan Peterson advised City Council Monday to consider setting money aside for the next garbage truck purchase, savings which could be impacted by a $4 decrease in solid waste fees.

“This could get it pretty tight, dropping the $4,” she said.

Capital improvement plan adviser ISG recommended the city consider implementing a storm water utility to issue a bond to cover over $500,000 worth of storm water projects on 9th Street, West 2nd Street, and NE 1st Street.

The 20 year payment schedule for the bond, divided among 792 residential and 94 commercial users, would amount to about $4 per household or business per month.

Following conflicts between Alta Firemen’s Association and Mayor Al Clark, the city has pursued one constructive idea that came out of discussions with Fire Chief Kirk “Bubba” Reetz.

Proposed Ordinance 19-04 would assign fees to fire and EMS services provided by the Fire Department. If passed, fees would be set annually by the City Council for the service area served by the department, with recommendations given by the Fire Chief on the amounts.

Those fees could be deposited into the Fire Department Capital Improvement savings account within the City budget.

At City Council’s May meeting, Bubba said fees he provided to the council were adopted from Le Mars Fire Department, who uses a similar system serving as a model for most of northwest Iowa.

It is unclear how services would be billed and collected, how collection would be enforced and if insurance would be the primary guarantor picking up the tab.

Second readings for each ordinance will be held at City Council’s meeting on June 4, at 6 p.m. A third reading is procedural for new ordinances before passage, though City Council can waive the third reading and pass it immediately if they see fit.