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Gradual approach is best for rate increases

FD council should follow precedent set with sewer bills

Fort Dodge residents have just seen their sewer bills go up. Probably no one is happy about it, but the situation could have been worse.

The increase is about 3 percent, and the money will be used to keep running the sanitary sewer system as daily operating costs increase.

What that means is homeowners are now paying a minimum of $17.80 per month, plus $3.44 for every thousand gallons above 3,000 gallons.

A second rate hike will go in effect on Jan. 1, 2022. At that time, the minimum monthly bill for homeowners will be $18.33 plus $3.54 for every thousand gallons above 3,000 gallons.

No one likes to see more of their hard-earned money going to the government for any reason. However, a properly maintained sanitary sewer system is needed to protect people and the environment. And it costs money to keep such a system going.

To get the necessary money, local officials have basically two choices. They can wait until the financial needs are great and approve a large increase all at once. Or they can enact smaller increases on a regular basis.

We believe the Fort Dodge City Council made the right move by continuing with a series of smaller increases. A 3 percent increase that adds less than a dollar to the monthly minimum bill hurts people a lot less than hitting them with one big rate hike.

The council is now faced with a potential rate hike for garbage and recycling collection services. About 11 years ago, the council enacted a significant sanitation rate hike with two goals. First, the increased revenue would pay for a a new type of truck with mechanical arms to lift and empty both garbage and recycling containers. The big rate hike was also intended to provide the ability to keep rates steady for a long time.

More than a decade later, landfill costs have gone up and revenue has remained flat. Eventually, more revenue is going to be needed.

We urge the council to follow the precedent it set with the sanitary sewer rate by enacting a series of small increases instead of a single large one.

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