IRON RIVER—At its regular June 16 meeting, the Iron River City Council discussed an increase in sewer rates due to the sewer fund consistently being in the red due to expenses exceeding revenue.
The West Iron County Sewer Authority (WISCA) will be increasing the city’s costs by approximately $20,000 starting July 1.
According to City Manager Perry Franzoi, this will be the first rate increase in five years. “This is something that needs to be done to keep everything solvent,” he said.
The 2013-14 sewer budget contains an increase to both the debt service and the commodity charge on the bills. The debt service will be $3, and the commodity charge will be $1.20. However, a public hearing is needed along with a notice in the Reporter before increase takes effect.
The hearing has been set for July 17 at 1:45 p.m. If approved, the increase would go into effect on the bill issued in the end of July.
Franzoi attributes the loss in revenue to the decrease in estimated dwelling units (EDU) in the city. In 2009, the EDU was 2,180. Now it is 2,057.
During a discussion of the blight ordinance, Paul VanMinsel talked to the council about ordinance violations in the city, including hazardous sidewalks, dead trees, missing curbs and a blind corner due to high shrubbery. Franzoi will meet with VanMinsel to discuss the options for correcting the issues discussed. VanMinsel provided documentation of all of the addresses with sidewalk problems, shrubbery and dead trees.
The council later discussed the blight and noxious weeds ordinance. Franzoi said that the city is pursuing a number of blight ordinance violators. He also told the council that a new lawnmower is required.
The manager also said he wants the council to look at adopting a property maintenance code. This would notify new owners during a transfer of ownership of any corrections that need to be made for the property to comply with the code. This way, the new owners would know that the corrections will be their responsibility.
The council approved the health benefit plan for qualified retired employees. The plan allows qualified retired employees who have filed their retirement paperwork with MERS and given a final date of employment to receive a health benefit plan in which they pay one-third of the cost and the city pays two-thirds. There will be seven qualified employees this year. It would cost the city $403 a month.
The city approved budget amendments that would eliminate over-expenditure and keep activity levels from going into the red, according to Franzoi.
During public comment, one resident said he had heard a few people say they will no longer vacation in Iron River because of crimes being committed. Another asked why council members did not attend a recent public program about illegal drugs. Another said he likes the area but needs help with sewer issues due to a truck accident near his property. Franzoi said he would help decide if it is the city’s responsibility or the property owner’s.
In other business, the council:
--Reappointed Roger Zanon to the West Iron County Sewer Authority.
--Appointed Jim Duda to the Downtown Development Authority.
--Agreed to a $250 donation to the West Side Veterans Council..
--Voted to transfer of $40,000 from Major to Local Streets.
--Approved a motion to allow the deputy clerk to sign checks.
--Agreed to pay Request No. 20 for the Rural Development sewer system improvements for June monthly fees for construction and engineering.