New year, new city council

2014 LS City Council Sitting: Council members Brian Johnson and Leann Thomas, Clerk Rhonda Klapperich and Mayor Barb Robinson. Standing: Tary Kolek and Jim Miller. Not pictured: Kevin Bill.

2014 LS City Council
Sitting: Council members Brian Johnson and Leann Thomas, Clerk Rhonda Klapperich and Mayor Barb Robinson. Standing: Tary Kolek and Jim Miller. Not pictured: Kevin Bill.

By Marcie Klomp

Jim Miller and Tary Kolek attended their first Lime Springs Council meeting as council members met on Jan. 7. They may have regretted their desire to run when they learned one of their first decisions will be how much to raise water and sewer rates.

In order to comply with DNR regulations, the town has to update the sewer plant at a cost of around $2.2 million. A Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) can be applied for, but that will only cover about $300,000. The city will have to take out loans for the rest.

Mayor Barb Robinson explained, “We are looking at huge loans. Our rates should have raised over the past few years, and they really haven’t. We have to look hard and heavy at an increase.” The average sewer bill is around $15.00. To pay for the sewer, that number will have to raise to about $41.00.

One option the mayor is leaning toward is increasing sewer and water rates half, starting July 1, 2014, and raise the other half next year. “I hate to do it all at one time,” she said.

Kolek asked, “Is the sewer plant that out of date?” Robinson replied the regulations have changed, and Lime Springs either has to fix it, revamp it or “they can shut us down.”

Miller asked the time frame for getting the work done. City Engineer George Tekippe answered that it needs to be operational by 2017.

“We don’t have much choice,” Robinson concluded.

When discussing sewer and water, talk always gets around to the amount of water not being billed out.

Public Works Director Casey Sebastian has been working on finding leaks and determining how much water is not being paid for because of old and faulty meters.

“The December meter readings had each person using 42.1 gallons per day. That’s below other towns. It should be closer to 60 gallons per person per day,” Sebastian said.

Also in December, 2.7 million gallons of water were treated but only about 750,000 gallons were billed. That’s about one-fourth not being billed out. Sebastian is fairly happy with that number since only one-eighth of the treated water was being billed when he started over a year ago.

Every meter in town needs to be changed due to age. In the past year, Sebastian has replaced about 35 water meters. They have a life expectancy of about 20 years, and some of the oldest meters are twice that old.

Tekippe spoke about the problems a month ago in regards to the west well. He explained how there was a power surge, which shut down the motor. “Alliant worked with us. They weren’t real quick to admit they had a voltage problem, but to make a long story short, they basically acknowledged they had a problem.”

With the motor shut down, no water was pumped into the well, which resulted in low to no pressure in town. This problem can be fixed by getting the tower on a telephone system. When the motor shuts down, someone (public works, mayor, council members) will be given a call or text to check out the problem. Sebastian will purchase two track phones with blue tooth compatability.

By the end of January, Alliant will change voltage from 240 to 208 in the well house. This will also help solve some problems.

A public hearing and bid opening was set for the next council meeting, Feb. 4. This will be for the work to be done on Howard Street.

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