Wapello City Hall
BETH VAN ZANDT/MUSCATINE JOURNAL

The small requests for water refunds keep coming to the Wapello City Council, which may drive the council to reconsider its current policy to routinely approve those appeals.

The latest refund request was presented to council Thursday from Richard Hammond on Roy El Road. In his request, Hammond reported his water softener had malfunctioned, causing his November and December water consumption to almost triple the normal usage at his residence.

However, because the city only refunds a portion of the associated sewer fees as part of the one-time refund process it has been following for several months, Hammond will see only a $141.59 credit on his bill.

City officials said the small amount has been the trend with other recent requests and several of the officials wondered if it was time to modify the process.

“It’s starting to get old. Do you want to continue to do this?” Mayor Shawn Maine asked.

The current policy was implemented several months ago after the council agreed to reduce the water bills of some residents who acknowledged their high water use had occurred because of plumbing problems.

Before those decisions, the council had required residents to demonstrate the excess water had not gone down a sewer drain before it would make any refund. Council members had agreed when the policy was modified that refunds under the new policy would only be made once.

That decision to only make one-time refunds to a resident and the growing trend of residents to request small refunds led to Thursday’s discussion on possibly curtailing the refunds.

“Do you want some sort of threshold?” council member Eric Small asked the rest of the council.

“Let’s put it on the agenda for further discussion,” council member Brett Shafer suggested.

The rest of the council agreed and Maine said he would continue the issue as old business until the matter is resolved.

In other business, the council approved the appointment of the Wapello Republican as the city’s official newspaper and appointed Hart-Frederick Engineering, Tiffin, as the city engineer for 2018.

The council also accepted a $27,199 bid from Mincer Ford, Columbus Junction, for a new ¾-ton, extended cab, four-wheel drive pickup with an eight-foot bed, provided the dealer assures the vehicle can arrive by July 1.

Maine said the date is important because the city wants to pay for the truck out of the current budget.

City Clerk Mike Delzell said he had budgeted $12,000 each from the city’s water, street and sewer accounts to pay for the vehicle.

Maine also issued his mayoral committee appointments list, explaining he had made some changes from previous years.

In final action, Small reported an animal waste fire was continuing to smolder at a turkey farm just outside the southwest city limits and creating a nuisance for nearby residents.

Small said farm operator Tim Graber, Wayland, who rents the turkey facility from Gentle Ben’s Farms, Wayland, had promised in July, during a Louisa County Board of Adjustment hearing, that he would be a good neighbor and haul waste away before it became a problem.

“(The smoldering) has been going on two or three weeks,” Small said, saying there was little the city or county could do to enforce air quality or other rules.

“I referred people to the DNR (Iowa Department of Natural Resources,” he said.

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