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Putting a hold on water rate increase was good move

Fort Dodge City Council imposed moratorium on raise

Every year, municipal governments across the country impose rate hikes on water and sewer bills. To have a local government pass a rate hike and then put it on hold so that customers don’t have to pay the higher price, even for a few months, is pretty unusual.

However, that’s exactly what happened in Fort Dodge this week. The City Council imposed a moratorium on a water rate hike it had approved back in 2017.

The rate hike will be reimposed later this year, probably in November. But until then, homeowners will be able to save a few dollars a month and businesses, particularly those that use a lot of water, will save much more.

The move is expected to save home owners about $7 a month. That would add up to about $60 per household, assuming the rate hike returns in November. Admitedly, we are not talking about a fortune here. But every penny matters, especially for families and retirees.

Just as important is the fact that had the rate increase gone forward, people would be paying for water with reduced hardness that they are not actually getting.

The rate increase the council put on hold was part of a three-phase set of increases approved to pay for adding reverse osmosis equipment to the John W. Pray Water Facility on Phinney Park Drive. That equipment will reduce the hardness of the water to bring the city into compliance with new rules on the amount of chlorides in treated wastewater discharged into the Des Moines River. The first two rate increases were needed to pay for constructing an addition to the water plant and buying the reverse osmosis machinery. The third increase was to pay for operating that machinery.

However, the reverse osmosis machines have not started running yet. Construction is still underway, with completion expected by the end of November.

Since no one is getting water with reduced hardness yet, the council on Monday unanimously voted to put the brakes on the last phase of the rate increase.

That was a good decision that puts the city’s residents and businesses first.