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A six-year steady climb in sewer rates becomes reality

December 6, 2022

In the next six years, sewer users in Webster City will see their sewer rates climb, beginning on Jan. 1, 2023, with an initial 25% increase.

That won’t be the last.

Residential users, outputting an example of 3,000 gallons in a household that pays $47.49 today, will pay $58.25 after the first of the year.

In January 2024 there will be another 25% increase, so the same household’s bill will rise to $73.06.

In 2025, it will rise to $91.33; it will rise to $104.53 in 2026.

In 2027 that same bill will be $114.58. In 2028 it will rise to $126.34.

These are rates passed by the City Council of Webster City on Monday at its meeting. Four council members voted to approve the measure. The fifth, Abbie Hansen, was absent.

The vote did not come without anguish. Members of Webster City’s light industry sector focused on why the rates will rise.

That reason is the proposed $78 million wastewater treatment plant that the city is moving towards building.

Phil Voge, speaking on behalf of both Mary Ann’s Specialty Foods and Webster City Custom Meats, asked, “If the two of us pull out, how would this affect the project?”

The answer was it would remove perhaps 5 to 6% of the construction cost.

“It doesn’t change the size of the overall plant or the project,” City Manager Daniel Ortez-Hernandez told him.

“What I’m asking is that we put on the pause button,” he said.

Voge, Connie Ingraham and Dean Bowden, all of whom have interest in Custom Meats, implored the Council to find a less expensive way forward for the new treatment plant.

John Hawkins, Webster City’s mayor, said there are communities that have had to rebuild their new wastewater treatment plants, “because they built cheaper options.” Eagle Grove is one of those communities, he said.

“This has been news to us, that we’re this far along,” Voge said. “We’re asking that you hold off on the final reading.”

Councilman Matt McKinney, referring to the specific ordinance the council eventually passed during the meeting, said, “It doesn’t matter what it is, we’re still going to need this money.”

“We just want to you to the best you can do,” Voge said.

Ingraham, president of WC custom meats, said, “$78 million for this city is way over the top.”

It will be financed on a 30-year loan.

“I don’t want to just spend us into an indebted forever,” Ingraham said.

She added, “Some of this is coming off our farmland and we are basically being held accountable for them.”

Councilman Logan Welch, who attended the meeting via telephone, said, “This conversation has been going on for five years,” before adding, “there’s no room for growth if we don’t move forward on this.”

McKinney reiterated an earlier comment. “If this plant was $35 million, we would still need this 25%,” he said.


View this article as it originally appeared in the Daily Freeman-Journal.

Last modified: December 7, 2022

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