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Keokuk Sewer Bills Could Be Capped

May 5, 2013

Keokuk residents could get a break on their sewer bills this summer.

Keokuk City Council

Finance Committee Chairman Roger Bryant wants the city council to cap residential bills during the months of June, July and August.

He wants the cap to be set at 125% of a residence's January bill.

In other words, if the sewer portion of your bill was $40 in January, the most you would be asked to pay in June, July or August would be $50.

Bryant says residents should not be punished for doing summer activities, just because Keokuk's sewer bills are based on total water use.

"You are watering your yard, you are watering your garden, you are filling your swimming pool," says Bryant, "that water does not necessarily go into the sewer system.  We have had several complaints on this so hopefully we can address this.

Bryant says the potential loss of revenue should not affect Keokuk's ability to pay for upcoming sewer work.

The cap would not apply to commercial or industrial rates.  Water and garbage rates would also remain the same for residential customers.

The Keokuk City Council is expected to vote on the cap during its meeting on May 16.

Keokuk is making some necessary changes to a long-range planning document.

The city council has voted to amend the city’s urban renewal plan to include the reconstruction of Grand Avenue from 4th Street to 15th Street.

The amendment also states the city could spend up to $500,000 on street and sidewalk improvements and up to $150,000 on home rehabs in the near future.

This move allows the city to spend money generated by a tax increment finance (TIF) district on the projects.

Mayor Tom Marion says TIF dollars are not part of the plan, though, for Grand Avenue.

"I think what we need is in the future for street repairs," says Marion.  "We will be filling in a lot of potholes and maybe doing some asphalt work."

The city says the amendment also brings Keokuk in line with a relatively new state law regarding accountability in urban renewal plans.

Keokuk will pay more than anticipated for some sewer work.

Langman Construction will get nearly $900,000 to build a lift station at North 9th Street near Grand Avenue.

The engineering estimate was around $500,000, but Public Works Director Mark Bousselot says the scope of the project makes it more difficult.

Bousselot says the city should be able to make up the difference thanks to the bids to rebuild Grand Avenue coming in lower than anticipated.