Special council meeting scheduled to review storm water study

The Marshalltown City Council will be meeting in special session at 1 p.m. Tuesday in council chambers to review the storm water utility study and proposed rate increases.

The meeting is open to the public.

Several councilors have expressed concern about state and federal mandates regarding storm sewer issues, rates charged to residential and agricultural users, and the storm sewer reserve fund.

At the Sept. 12 council meeting, Senior Environmental Engineer Deb Mathias of Stanley Consulting of Muscatine, made her second presentation (the first was Jan. 11) telling the city it needed to bolster its reserves to pay for storm sewer related equipment, debt service, anticipated expenses and other costs, or tap into reserves.

Mathias said the storm water rate reserve would be solvent until 2019, then be depleted.

Marshalltown Public Works Director Justin Nickel also told the council at its Sept. 26 meeting the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Federal Emergency Management Administration want Marshalltown to increase the height of its levees along the Iowa River, ranging from a couple of inches to two feet in some places.

That project could cost $5 to $7 million dollars.

Nickel’s report drew the ire of Councilman-at-Large Leon Lamer, who suggested Nickel tell the Corps of Engineers “to go home.”

At the same meeting, Nickel recommended the council increase rates for one year to help bolster the reserve fund, and then study the matter more.

However, the council did not follow his recommendation.

After extensive debate, the matter was tabled.

Third ward councilman Mike Gowdy said he has major concerns about asking residents to pay for a storm sewer rate increase shortly after asking for public support on the joint police and fire utility project earlier this year.

All Marshalltown property owners will see a property tax increase since the measure passed Aug. 2.

He expressed strong regret about going to the public for a rate increase at the Sept. 12 and 26 meetings,

“As much as I have studied this (the reserve) and I know we are financial stress, I would support it up to a point to get it built up,’ he said. “But afterwards we should study projects. Every time we do this, we have to ask the public for more money”

Gowdy said the city needs to explore all options in keeping project costs at the minimum, while securing revenue other than increasing property taxes and user rates.

“I am looking forward to (new) city administrator Jessica Kinser starting next month,” Gowdy said. “I think she might have some ideas on this and other storm water issues.”

Contact Mike Donahey at 641-753-6611 or mdonahey@timesrepublican.com