PEOSTA, Iowa — Residential sewer fees in Peosta could more than double over the next few years as the community prepares for construction of a new wastewater treatment plant.

Peosta City Council members this week set an Aug. 27 public hearing date for an ordinance outlining residential sewer rate increases. If adopted, the base rate would incrementally increase from the current $12.33 per month to $24.81 in July 2021.

City officials said increasing sewer rates would help fund the construction, operation and maintenance cost of the city’s planned $7.5 million wastewater treatment plant. The new facility is being constructed in compliance with requirements from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

“This is all directed by the DNR,” City Administrator Whitney Baethke said. “We know this might be an unpopular item, but council doesn’t have much choice.”

Currently, customers pay the base rate, as well as $2.342 for every 1,000 gallons used. In January, the rates would increase to a $16.33 monthly base and a $2.947 per-1,000-gallon fee, per the proposal.

In September 2020, the base rate would increase to $20.57, while the usage rate would rise to $3.594 per 1,000 gallons. And the final increase, set for July 2021, would bring the base rate to $24.81 with additional fees of $4.241 per 1,000 gallons used.

Rates also would proportionally increase for industrial and commercial customers, as well as for county residents who utilize the city’s sewer system.

Baethke explained that the city’s current lagoon wastewater treatment facility will not be able to safely support and supply the needs of residents and business owners in the coming years.

Construction on the new wastewater treatment plant is set to begin in spring 2020. The new facility would be operational in 2021, with demolition and decommission of the current lagoon facility expected to wrap in 2022.

Baethke said other communities throughout Dubuque County also have been required to upgrade facilities. The proposed rate increases would put the city “in the middle of the pack” in comparison to other area rates.

In other action, council members signed off on a fencing ordinance specifying which materials can be used in construction. It also requires residents to obtain a permit before erecting or altering a fence. There is no fee to file the permit.

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