Stormwater utility fee increase proposed in Fort Dodge

Fort Dodge homeowners and businesses may shortly be paying more each month into an account that pays for fixing and building storm sewers.

The monthly stormwater utility fee for homeowners would increase to $4, according to a proposal discussed by the City Council on Monday.

Currently, that fee is $3 a month. A small number of people who own particularly large properties pay more than $3 a month.

The monthly stormwater utility fee for businesses and industries is now $9 a month with additional fees for larger properties.

That fee would rise to $15 a month under the plan discussed Monday.

Chad Schaeffer, the city’s director of engineering, business affairs and community growth, said the proposed increases would generate an additional $200,000 a year.

He added that he would like to see the stormwater utility fee automatically increase each year to keep pace with inflation.

The stormwater utility fees haven’t been increased since they were initiated in 2007. Those fees now generate about $500,000 a year.

The majority of council members said they were in favor of the proposed increases, and a couple of them said they would support increasing the commercial rate even higher.

”We constantly have the need to fix storm sewers,” Councilman Neven Conrad said. ”We constantly have the need to fix infrastructure. This is how we do it.”

Councilman Dean Hill was the only elected official who said he was opposed to the increase.

”I think a dollar is too much, particularly with all the increases we’ve had lately,” he said, referring to recent hikes in the water and sanitary sewer rates and the passage of the $25.5 million bond issue for Iowa Central Community College.

”But on the other hand, we have to keep up with the needs,” Councilman Kim Alstott replied.

”I’m just glad we’re addressing the problems that haven’t been addressed in a long time,” he added.

Councilwoman Lydia Schuur said she was in favor of the $1 increase for residential properties. She added that she believes the rate for commercial and industrial properties could be raised even higher than the proposed $15 a month.

Councilmen Terry Moehnke and Jeff Hill also said they believed the commercial and industrial rate could be set even higher.

Councilman Dave Flattery said he would support a provision that would automatically increase the fees every year ”so that it doesn’t become a shock to the citizens every 10 years.”

The council took no action on the proposed increases. The proposal will be placed a future council agenda for action.