News Feature | September 21, 2017

Sewage Treatment Charge Spurs Tri-State Standoff

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome

money reg new

Officials in several Midwestern cities are in a standoff over charges for sending sewage to a treatment plant in Sioux City, IA.

The wastewater treatment plant in Sioux City serves four additional cities in three states, including Sergeant Bluff, IA; South Sioux City, NE; North Sioux City, SD; and Dakota Dunes, SD. It is a municipally-owned, 28.73 MGD wastewater plant, according to Sioux City.

“At the beginning of the new fiscal year beginning July 1, Sioux City began enforcing a 7 percent service charge that had not previously been collected on the neighboring communities' bills. The charge is outlined in the years-old sewage agreements with each city but had been overlooked for at least the past two years, and potentially longer,” the Sioux City Journal reported.

Officials in the customer cities, including North Sioux City, South Sioux City, and Sergeant Bluff “say they have held off paying additional fees and are pursuing discussions about the charge. Some say if the full charge remains in place, more rate increases for their residents could be on the horizon,” the report said.

South Sioux City Administrator Lance Hedquist said his city does not intend to pay, according to the report.

Sioux City has struck separate deals with North Sioux City, South Sioux City, and Sergeant Bluff regarding how much waste they can send to Sioux City and at what price they pay, the report said. Dakota Dunes also has a sewage treatment deal with the city, but the service charge was not in the original agreement, the report said.

Sioux City utilities director Mark Simms said, per the Associated Press: "This is something that's existed in the agreements since the agreements were signed many, many years ago, and we're just trying to correct the error going forward."

Sergeant Bluff Mayor Jon Winkel said the timing is a problem, since the city budget is already set. The new charge would add about $1,400 to what the city pays each month.

"It’s not a huge number, but again when you’re dealing with taxpayer dollars, we’re elected to watch every one of them," he said, per the report.

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