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Keokuk Seniors Could Pay More For Garbage Collection

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More than 600 households in Keokuk that had been paying a discounted rate for garbage services could soon see an increase in their bills following  a report from the State Auditor of Iowa.

The report, dated May 8, 2016, was an audit of the Cascade Municipal Utilities.

State Auditor Mary Mosiman stated in the report that the city of Cascade provides a senior discount for water, sewer, garbage, and recycling services.

“In accordance with section 388.6 of the Code of Iowa, a city utility or combined utility system may not provide use of service at a discriminatory rate, except to the city or its agencies, as provided in section 384.81.”

Keokuk offers a similar discount for seniors and people whose sole income is social security. They pay just $15/month for garbage collection as opposed to the $18/month paid by other residents.

City Administrator Aaron Burnett informed the City Council of the report during its most recent meeting.

Alderman Ron Payne openly questioned a state office telling Keokuk how to charge its residents for garbage services.

“They must not be senior citizens themselves,” said Payne. “Otherwise they would understand that most senior citizens don’t generate waste like a younger family does or a younger couple.”

Alderman Mike O’Connor asked Burnett if the reduced rate could be maintained or if another charge could be reduced for seniors to maintain some sort of discount.

Burnett said he would never recommend the city violate state law, especially in light of the auditor’s report.

He said he would discuss the senior discount with the city attorney, adding that aldermen would eventually need to vote to rescind it.

News of the report comes as the city was preparing to increase the garbage rate citywide during the next two fiscal years: $1/month on July 1, 2017 and $1/month on July 1, 2018.

Payne and Alderman Dan Winn said they could not vote to increase the rate knowing that the bills for seniors would be going up so dramatically.

O’Connor said he did not like the idea of seniors paying $4/month more come July 1, but he said the additional money is needed for new garbage trucks.

Aldermen ended up tabling the rate increase to provide time to determine how the city would proceed with the senior discount.

Jason Parrott is a former reporter at Tri States Public Radio.