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|11/17/2012 ||Email this article Print this article |
|Sewer rate increase in Grand Mound draws concerns|
By Sarah Beuthien
Grand Mound city council started off its Nov. 12 meeting discussing concerns from resident Stacy Iams.
Iams addressed the council concerning the proposed $7 per month increase in sewer rates. Iams further explained in 2008 she, along with residents on the north end of town, was forced to replace the lateral sewer line to her house or face legal action by the city.
Iams, who now is on her third installment of a 10-year loan, costing her $586 annually, would like to know why she now is being faced with a sewer increase as well.
Mayor Dan Behr noted the increase reflects the cost of the entire sewer project started in 2008 and completed this fall. Construction was started on the north end of town, where Iams lives, with main sewer lines being lined and residents replacing their lateral sewer lines to alleviate infiltration.
The project recently was completed where main sewer lines on the south portion of town were relined or replaced (where lining was not possible).
Residents were not required to replace their lateral lines.
Council member Kurt Crosthwaite added, the project started with the north side of town because that area was the biggest area of concern.
Council member Darrell Warren, who was not a council member during the 2008 construction, added all sewer water on the north end of the town runs to a lift station where it is then pumped south of town where the lagoons are located.
At times there were as much as 13 times the amount of sewer water being pumped to the lagoons than into town, council member Mike Lawson stated.
The city was coming under scrutiny by the DNR for discharging the lagoons more often than normal. Iams then asked why all residents were not forced, as she was, to replace their sewer lines.
Before the 2008 project started she and other residents were told they had to comply with the city and replace their lines or face legal action. However, as the project progressed, some residents did not replace their lines and have not been mandated to.
Behr said the council fully intended to make everyone fix their laterals.
He added, "Your property is getting the benefit of a new lateral, with having several sewer lines being done in the same time period homeowners received a lower rate and 0 percent financing through the city."
Iams responded saying she didn't want a new lateral and the city had no way of knowing her line was contributing to the infiltration problem.
Since construction she has had foundation cracks which caused leaking in her basement, problems with her yard and a substandard sidewalk. Iams also asked why the south side of town received blacktop and the north side was seal coated.
The reason for the blacktop was because these portions had to have new sewer installed because the existing sewer was so badly damaged it could not be lined. There also is a difference in contractors.
The conversation ultimately came back to the question of why is the increase going into effect now?
Work done in 2008 totaled $148,991 and was paid for using money the city had on hand with the laterals being paid by the property owner.
The work done this fall cost $482,000. The city again used funds in reserves to lessen the loan to the amount of $393,000 making the entire project from 2008-2012 roughly $630,991.
With the entire city now complete, rates needs to increase. The $7 per month increase will cover loan payments for the project but just barely, notes city clerk Marilyn Galloway.
If the city had not used reserve funds for portions of the project, the increase could have been as much as $12 per month. Iams also asked council and the city attorney about specifics in the agreement from the 2008 lateral work. Attorney David Pillers will look into her concerns.
In other business
In other business, the council:
Heard a report from the Clinton County sheriff's department stating 58.18 hours were spent in Grand Mound Sept. 26-Oct. 25. Deputies handled one incident of criminal mischief and answered calls for standby during property retrieval, vehicle unlock, animal call, OWI, suspicious activity and phone messages.
Appointed Marybelle Howard as the contact person for Clinton County Marketing. The council also approved making a one-time donation of $750 to the agency.
Approved Resolution 2012-16, amendment to the 2012-2013 budget, and ordinance 259-12 amending sewer rates. The third reading of the amendment was waived.
Learned city clerk Marilyn Galloway will be retiring at the end of January 2013. Galloway has served as city clerk since 1999. It was decided to run ads in local papers and Internet resourses to find a replacement. The council set a Dec. 7, deadline for applications. Behr asked council members Guy and Crosthwaite to help serve on a committee to find a qualified applicant.
Heard committee reports. Guy reported Boo Bash was a success. The community center is still improving with the floors being refinished this week. The Community Club will hold the annual 50-Plus dinner this weekend.
Guy asked about a water shut-off sticking out of the ground on a property on DeWitt Street, that she fears could cause a hazard. Kilburg noted he added a metal stake to mark the pipe.
Heard from Kilburg, who informed council the lagoons are in good shape and the DNR is happy. Behr asked if the city knows how deep the lagoons are and if that should be checked into. Warren thought it would be a good idea, saying over time there will be an increase in sludge on the bottom of the lagoons, especially the first two.
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