The price that Fort Dodge residents pay for water would rise by 1.5 percent a year for the next four years under a proposal that won the preliminary approval of the City Council Monday.
''We're doing this because we're behind in fixing our plumbing,'' Councilman Kim Alstott said.
He said that the 1.5 percent annual increases would avert the need to have a much larger rate increase in a single year.
The rate hike would go into effect on July 1. It must be approved two more times by the council.
According to Alstott, a customer who uses 2,000 gallons of water a month would pay $12.21 in 2014 if the increase wins final approval.
He said in 2015, that number would rise to $12.40 a month. In 2016, it would be $12.58, while in 2017 it would be $12.77.
The council voted 5-2 to give preliminary approval to the increase. Councilmen Dave Flattery, Andy Fritz, Jeffrey Halter, Terry Moehnke and Alstott voted yes. Councilmen Dean Hill and Don Wilson voted no.
Wilson said he could not justify a rate increase when the city's production of water has gone from 4 million gallons per day to 9 million gallons per day.
''It's hard for me to see why we have to have an increase,'' he said.
Flattery and Hill participated in the meeting by telephone.
Also on Monday, the council hired Wicks Construction, of Decorah, to do a sanitary sewer project on 10th Avenue North at a cost of $1,427,470. That contract was awarded unanimously.
The company will install new sanitary sewers between 15th and 18th Street, and then it will reconstruct the street. The street work will include realigning the awkward intersection of 10th Avenue North and 16th Street.
Other bidders for the project were Hovey Construction Inc., Fort Dodge, ($1,641,471); and Minger Construction Co., Chanhassen, Minn, ($2,125,417).
In another infrastructure-related move, the council hired Snyder & Associates, of Ankeny, to conduct a traffic system improvements study. That work will include an inventory of all the traffic signals in the city, the identification of intersections that are the sites of a high number of collisions and assessing the traffic infrastructure.
The council members decided against trying to regulate garage sales.
During a workshop before the business meeting, City Manager David Fierke presented some information on the ways that other Iowa cities handle garage sales. He said a complaint about a resident having three or four garage sales a year prompted the workshop. He said the individual complained about traffic caused by the sales and the possibility that new merchandise, rather than the typical used household items, is being sold.
Moehnke said he believes the city government should limit residents to two garage sales a year and require them to get a permit.
Other council members weren't interested in regulating what Wilson called a ''recreational sport for a lot of people.''
''I think this is a waste of time that we're having that this discussion,'' Fritz said.