Second Reading of Sewer Tax Increase Meets Little Resistance

by Charlie Comfort

Oskaloosa, Iowa- The second reading of an ordinance to increase the Oskaloosa storm sewer tax rate by 20 percent unanimously cleared its second hurdle at Tuesday’s regular meeting of the Oskaloosa City Council. The ordinance is now one reading away from becoming approved, and thus enacting a 20 percent increase on the storm sewer tax rate to pay for necessary upgrades to the city’s sanitary sewer plant.

At the previous Oskaloosa city council meeting, it was noted that city officials are between a rock and a hard place, for lack of a better term, as new mandates from the Iowa DNR and the EPA, stemming from the Clean Water Act, are forcing Oskaloosa to make immediate changes to the city’s current sewer infrastructure. Aging infrastructure has long been an issue with the city’s sewer infrastructure, as noted by City Manager Michael Schrock at the previous city council meeting.

Schrock had previously stated that the city was operating under expired permits for the sanitary sewer plants, something that was not unique to just Oskaloosa. However, as a result of a forced renewal of the city’s permits, and mandates imposed by state and federal authorities in an effort to combat nitrogen and phosphorus deposits into the Gulf of Mexico, changes had to be made soon.

The proposed ordinance, which is all but certain to pass at the next meeting, will result in an, on average, $8.30 increase in residential sewer rates for city residents. A rate schedule included in city council documents shows that limited increases in the sanitary sewer rate are forecasted in the upcoming years; however city manager Michael Schrock stated on January 2 that he believed those projects were reasonable and safe to project.

After little discussion of the topic on Monday, the council unanimously voted to approve the second reading of the ordinance, increasing city sanitary sewer rates. The final reading of the ordinance is set to occur on February 5.

The council also got the process moving forward to begin phase 1 of the Sanitary Sewer System Improvements Project. Up for consideration was a resolution for preliminary approval of plans, specifications, form of contract, estimated cost, ordering a publication of notice hearing, notice to bidders, setting the date for a public hearing, and authorizing to receive and open bids for the Phase 1 Sanitary Sewer System Improvements Project.

According to city council documents, “The scope of work for this project is a combination of multiple sewer projects, which includes the reconstruction of sanitary sewer gravity main pipes east of 17th Street, between A Avenue and 6th Avenue, and the rehabilitation of sanitary sewer gravity main pipes and manholes in various locations in the northeast and southeast quadrants of the City of Oskaloosa (Refer to the attached exhibit maps for detailed locations of this project). This project includes sewer pipe reconstruction (approximately 1,960 LF), sewer pipe lining (approximately 6,800 LF), manhole reconstruction (15 manholes), manhole rehabilitation (approximately 275 LF), and manhole invert repairs (17 manholes). The preliminary engineering cost estimate for this project is $1,033,915.50.”

If a bid is awarded for the project, construction will begin on March 5, with a total of 110 work days allotted for the project. Bids will be accepted by the city until February 8 and presented to the City Council for a public hearing on February 20.

The council ultimately approved the resolution for Phase 1 of the project.

In other action, the council:

Approved the appointments of Jack Dietz to the Oskaloosa Airport Commission, for an expired term ending on December 31, 2021. Approved the appointment of Valinn McReynolds to the Oskaloosa Housing Trust Fund.

Approved a resolution authorizing advancement costs and a resolution awarding a contract to Musco for the installation of new streetlight poles on South 1st Street and 2nd Avenue East.

Received the annual report from Mahaska Community Recreation Foundation Executive Director Sherry Vavra.

The next regular meeting of the Oskaloosa City Council will be held on February 5 at 6 pm in the City Council chambers.

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Posted by on Jan 17 2018. Filed under Local News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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