Water and sewer rates will increase for the seventh straight year in the city of Decorah. The only question is by how much.
The issue was discussed by the Utility Committee of the Decorah City Council following Monday night's regular council meeting. City manager Chad Bird stated the increases are necessary in order to get both funds out of the red.
Councilman Dan Bellrichard supported an immediate 30 percent water rate increase. Bellrichard stated he saw the immediate increase as a way to put some money aside for future water and sewer projects. Water Department Superintendent Todd Ihde and Wastewater Treatment Plant Manager Mike O'Hara both told the committee if they could invest in their system now, it could save the city money down the road.
Councilman Randy Schissell supported a 15 percent water increase. Schissell stated it took the city awhile to get into this financial position when it comes to the water and sewer funds. Voicing his opposition to the 30 percent increase, Schissell asked the council when was the last time anyone received a 30 percent raise. Bird says both systems are still in good shape and are well-run but will need work down the road and finances are a concern.
Although no official consensus was reached, Utility Committee Chair Andy Carlson stated a 20 percent increase for water rates and a 12 percent increase for sewer rates was a fair compromise, based on the discussion.
(Our thanks to KDEC's Darin Svenson for this story)