Journal Express, Knoxville, IA

May 10, 2013

Sewer fees won't increase for now

By Steve Woodhouse Editor
The Journal Express

---- — The Knoxville City Council approved the third and final reading of an ordinance to repeal a scheduled sewer rate increase, which would have taken effect on July 1. This is due to a combination of factors, including savings on other expenses.

The increase was planned when the City thought it would have to build a new retention basin at the Wastewater Treatment Plant. Specifications for this basin were never determined or clarified by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

In the time since the discussion about the basin occurred, the City has achieved a new arrangement with the DNR to reduce the amount of inflow and infiltration going into the plant. Much of this work has been implemented, but there is still potential for “clean” water, coming from drains, storm pipes, etc., to get into the sewer system and go into the plant. This puts additional stress on equipment and increases figures that must be reported to the DNR.

The council passed the first reading of another ordinance Monday night, intended to address unauthorized inputs to the City’s sewer system. Passing of the ordinance is part of the agreement with the DNR, which allows the wastewater treatment plant to continue operating. An amendment to the ordinance, which has previously appeared on a council agenda, required the process to start over.

The ordinance calls for penalties against property owners who do not allow private sewer connection inspections and are found to be with unauthorized sewer inputs, such as sump pumps, basement drains, etc.

In a separate action, council approved a change order in the contract for improvements on Water Street. This action reduced the contract amount by $14,500.

According to information provided to the council, the original contract was awarded to the S.L. Baumeier Company in the amount of $410,454.01 and has since required three previous change orders, which have increased the contract amount by $12,785.74. The project was not completed on time, for which the contractor was previously penalized. This change order is a further penalty, as the work was not done by April 1 and liquidated damages were incurred between April 1-29.

As of Monday, 97 percent of the work was completed and $19,727.33 in payments has been withheld. Following Monday’s change order, the contract is now worth $410,454.01.