SIOUX CITY, Iowa — Three neighboring cities have yet to pay Sioux City’s long-overlooked wastewater service charge, lest they have to raise local sewage charges.

The Sioux City Journal reports that the city discovered the neglected charge during an audit and notified officials in Sergeant Bluff, Iowa; North Sioux City, South Dakota; and South Sioux City, Nebraska, that it would begin imposing the 7 percent charge.

The agreements with each city for sewage treatment at the Sioux City plant have been overlooked for at least two years, potentially longer.

“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,” Sioux City utilities director Mark Simms said.

The charge essentially covers administrative costs, Simms said, adding that he wasn’t sure why it had been overlooked.

New enforcement of the service charge follows implementation of an unrelated 3 percent sewer rate increase for all of Sioux City’s wastewater customers, which had prompted the three other cities to raise their rates.

North Sioux City Administrator Ted Cherry said he wants to talk over the fee with Sioux City and was waiting for some sort of resolution before his city pays the $1,960 due for the month of August.

Sergeant Bluff Mayor Jon Winkel said it’s not clear whether a local rate increase would be necessary, but the timing of the new charge was an issue because the city plans its budgets a year in advance. The average Sioux City service charge would add about $1,400 to Sergeant Bluff’s monthly bill.

“It’s not a huge number, but again when you’re dealing with taxpayer dollars, we’re elected to watch every one of them,” Winkel said.

Sioux City’s Simms said the three cities could propose solutions, but a final decision on any would likely come from his City Council.


Information from: Sioux City Journal, http://www.siouxcityjournal.com