Marquette Council approves utility rate increase

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By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times

At its March 12 meeting, the Marquette Council approved an ordinance that will slightly up the city’s sanitary sewer rate. 

The 1 percent monthly increase for residential properties is based on a recommendation from the auditor, to get the fund operating in the positive, stated city clerk Bonnie Basemann at a previous meeting. It is slated to add $4,000 in revenue. 

The council has been discussing the proposed rate change since December, but held off on passing the ordinance right away, so residents would have an opportunity to share their thoughts. 

John Ries was the only council member who opposed the rate increase; Eleanor Soulli, Cindy Halvorson, Ryan Young and Pam Brodie-Fitzgerald all voted “yes.” 

Mayor Steve Weipert, who previously said small increases over several years will likely be needed to catch up, called this move “a step in the right direction.” 

Open meeting complaint addressed 

The council approved an informal resolution acknowledging its role in an open meeting complaint, which stemmed from a special hearing held last fall. 

At the October hearing, residents debated whether one home owner’s dog should be allowed to live in the bench neighborhood. The mayor said the discussion became heated, and asked the parties to leave toward the end of the meeting, so the council could deliberate uninterrupted. One of the parties reported the request, and it was deemed an improper closed session by the Iowa Public Information Board, since it was never noted on the meeting agenda. 

As a result, the council was asked to approve the resolution and take classes regarding open meetings law. 

Budget approved 

The council also approved the city’s 2019-2020 fiscal year budget at last week’s meeting. Brodie-Fitzgerald was the lone dissenter, citing displeasure with Marquette’s contribution to the police department. Marquette and McGregor currently split the cost 50/50, but she feels Marquette should pay less due to its smaller population, and wants the 28E agreement updated to reflect that. 

“A lot of variables go into it besides [number of] people,” responded mayor Weipert. He encouraged Brodie-Fitzgerald to ask the police commission to hire an independent consultant to review the 28E agreement. 

“You’re not going to get anywhere with two McGregor and two Marquette people” reviewing it, he stated.

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