Another increase is on the horizon for Clinton residents’ quarterly sewer/solid waste bills.

But this time, the hike has nothing to do with solid waste services.

Internal Operations Committee members on Thursday forwarded a sewer rate plan to the Clinton City Council Committee of the Whole that would increase bills by 20.7 percent in fiscal year 2013. Sewer services are billed alongside solid waste operations, which will now feature a flat fee of $5.25 per month starting May 1.

John Rowland, at-large councilman, expressed frustration with the added increases and looked back at past councils’ lack of foresight.

“The city was foolish and short sighted to not fund this,” Rowland said.

Referencing his days from his first stint with the council, Rowland described a meeting when a Dubuque official chastised Clinton representatives for their inability to utilize funds to repair some of the issues the city currently faces.

Finance Director Jessica Kinser said the city needs extra money to fund a long term control plan, that is mandated by the EPA and DNR. The city of Clinton is required to conform to regulations within a 25-year time span, and projects need to be started in year one, City Engineer Jason Craft said.

City officials proposed three years of increases that include $8.21 per 100 cubic feet in 2013; $8.83 in 2014; and $9.52 in 2015. The current rate is $6.79 per 100 cubic feet, which is the second highest rate of 35 Iowa cities that have populations greater than 10,000, according to a study conducted by the city of Ames. Without these increases, Craft said the city would not have the money needed to comply with the regulations.

“We have to eliminate pollutant discharge to the river,” Craft said. “This is the EPA and DNR telling us.”

Projects that the city will pursue include Camanche Avenue storm and sanitary sewer reconstruction for $2,178,823; 25th Avenue pump station, storm and sanitary, $7 million; Margaret Street pump station, $3 million; sewer operations center and laboratory, $5 million; and Beaver Slough trunk sewer maintenance and rehabilitation, $3.25 million.

The city is expecting the proposed rate increases to fund $2.25 million of the repairs.

Ward 4 Councilman Paul Gassman said a three-year look at the increases is not enough information for the public.

“When the original plans were set, the city implemented for ‘x’ years and it never changed,” Gassman said. “That’s wrong. The public needs to know what will happen down the road.”

Original plans for sewer hikes went into effect in 2010 and 2011 when the city raised rates by 10 percent in both years.

Craft said the city will know more next year when the proposed increases for 2013  are in place. Commercial companies will also see an increase. The proposed rates for commercial class 2 are $8.998 per cubic feet; class 3 at $10.634; class 4 at $12.27; and class 5 at $13.906.

The issue will now be addressed at the next City Council meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall.

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