Keokuk residents and businesses will pay more for sewer services as the city council has finalized a vote to increase the monthly rate effective August 1.
The commercial rate will increase by 3% while the residential rate will go up 5%.
Mayor Tom Marion says the commercial rate increase is smaller because Keokuk wants to remain competitive for businesses and industries.
The city says the minimum monthly charge for a residence will now be $24.25.
Marion says the federal government is forcing Keokuk to raise sewer rates to help pay for the multi-year, multi-million dollar separation of the city’s combined sewer system.
He says the city has been trying to gradually raise the rates. For example, the council signed off on an 11% increase despite a recommendation of 20% from the city’s sewer consultants.
NEW POLICE CHIEF
The City Council has unanimously approved the promotion of Dave Hinton from Administrative Captain to Police Chief. His first day on the job, in his new position, is Sunday, July 7.
Hinton did not attend the meeting when the council made the appointment.
He has been with the Keokuk Police Department for 20+ years.
Hinton was selected from six internal candidates to replace former Police Chief Tom Crew, who retired after 25 years with the force.
Hinton’s starting salary will be about $63,000.
Tourism Director Kirk Brandenberger is trying to take advantage of a very successful year for his department.
He says the fiscal year that ended June 30 was Keokuk’s best ever when it comes to the revenue from the city’s 7% hotel/motel tax.
Brandenberger says there were enough nights where Keokuk was at full capacity that the tax generated $276,000, which is up nearly $45,000 from the previous fiscal year.
He is asking the city council to add $7,000 to the tourism department’s budget for additional marketing in St. Louis and Kansas City.
The request is based on a pledge made by the city council during budget discussions that the additional funding would be available if the hotel/motel tax revenue exceeded $260,000.
The city council says it must review the budget before acting on the request.
FIRE CONTRACT EXTENSION
The city council has signed off on a three year extension of the employment contract between the city and its firefighters.
The previous contract was set to expire on June 30, 2013, but the firefighters approached the city with an offer for an extension.
They were willing to give up the 3% wage hike negotiated for the current budget year and accept whatever rate the city negotiated with its other unions.
In exchange, the language from the previous contract would remain the same for the extension, which will run through June 30, 2016.
As part of the extension, the firefighters will receive a 1.4% wage hike retroactive to July 1 and a 0.25% increase on January 1, 2013.
Wages will be renegotiated each of the final three years of the contract.
Keokuk has reached tentative contracts with the city’s police officers and employees at the wastewater treatment plant that include the same wage hike for the firefighters.
Mayor Tom Marion says the general unit is looking for more money, after a wage freeze last year, so the two sides appear destined for arbitration.
The City Council is ready to change its meeting times.
The panel currently holds its business meetings at 7:30 P.M. on the 1st and 3rd Thursdays of each month. They are preceded by a workshop that gets underway at 6:00 P.M.
The city council has approved the first reading of an ordinance that would push the start time of the workshop to 5:30 P.M. and the business meeting to 6:30 P.M.
The off-week workshops would remain at 4:30 P.M.