City Council to consider sewer rate increases

Ordinance calls for 10% increases each of the next three years starting July


FORT MADISON – Sewer rates in the city may be on the rise.

At Tuesday’s Fort Madison City Council meeting an amendment to city sewer rates will be considered on a first reading that will increase rates 10% starting in July. The move increases basic service rates to $28.61 per bill and the volume charge to $6.61 per 1,000 gallons of water used.

The rates would apply to both monitored and non-monitored customers.

The council is proposing to increase rates additionally 10% the following July and 10% in July of 2024. A 3% increase would be instituted in July of 2025 taking the basic service charge from the current $26.01 to $35.66 over the four-year period.

The volume charge would increase from $6.01 per 1,000 gallons to $8.24 per 1,000 gallons.

Monitored customers would see the same percentage increases in volume charges from $1.91 per 1,000 gallons currently to $2.10 in July, $2.31 in July of 2023, $2.54 in July of 2024 and $2.62 in July of 2025. Monitored customers are billed for a minimum of 30,000 gallons of water per month.

Past due fees will be subject to a 10% late fee.

The ordinance to amend the rates is being presented to the council on a first reading. Ordinances typically require three readings, but the third reading can be suspended if approved by the council.

Also on the agenda is the sale of 2833 Avenue J to 2x4s for Hope for $1. The organization is planning to build a set of mini homes in the area for at-risk veterans.

The council will also be voting on a cost-share agreement with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources to develop a fueling station and launching docks at the Fort Madison Marina, currently under construction.

The cost-share grant award from the DNR is not to exceed $52,468 as a reimbursement and represents 75% of the actual cost of the improvements at the marina.

The council also has a resolution to consider that sets fees for the vacant building registration ordinance that’s on its third and final reading for approval.

The fees would set a minimum $10 annual fee for registering vacant buildings with the city. The fee is $10 for buildings starting at 576 square feet. The fee increases incrementally after that for single family residences larger than 1,000 square feet at $25 to $250/year for 20+ family residential units.

There are also fees for commercial/mixed use buildings of $25 for up to 2,000 square feet, to $250 for 20,000+ square feet. The rates on residential and commercial buildings double in the third year of the program and double again in the fourth year. Penalties for failure to register vacant properties with the city range from $100/month to $1,000 per month for large commercial buildings over 20,000 square feet.

The council amended the ordinance on the last reading two weeks ago to exempt property owners that show utilities active and insurance equal to the cost of demolition. The owners are exempted from the annual fees associated with the ordinance, but are not exempt from registering the property.

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