At the April 8 Skidmore City Council meeting, Emily Wicoff, PE, from Snyder and Associates, Inc., St. Joseph, and Jerri Dearmont of the Northwest Regional Council of Governments explained to the residents present why both the water and sewer rates have been increased since November 2020.

The city has been losing money on water for the past two years and are still paying for the loans it incurred when the water tower was replaced. The tower is in use to provide water pressure for residents even though the city buys water from Nodaway County Public Water Supply District #1.

To qualify for the Department of Natural Resources loans and grants which will be used to renovate the existing sewer system, the city has to raise rates to prove it will be able to repay the loans. The city has operating and maintenance fees. DNR will dictate the official final sewer rates when the project is completed.

Wicoff explained the need for the sewer system improvements. New EPA guidelines have become more stringent since the sewer system was built. Also components have worn and will need to be replaced.

When asked why the higher rates weren’t staggered over a period of time, Mayor Sandy Wright said, the sewer rates were increased in both November and March along with the water rate.

Another point of contention was the fact that water meters had not been read for several months because of the weather. This is not a new occurrence as cold weather prevents the opening of the meter wells to read. It is hoped that buying the self-reading meters will solve this problem.

The city has put in five demo meters from BP Meters, LLC, Maryville, to see how satisfactory the meters are. One has been placed at the Lou White residence, which she was unhappy about. Wright explained it had been placed because of White’s problems with water loss. Also, utility easements allow the city to put the meters in. White reminded the city she doesn’t have a computer at her home and can’t access the meter data. She does have a smartphone and Wright and City Clerk Megan Morrow will show her how to download and use the app to monitor her water usage.

Wright requested everyone who is having problems paying their water and sewer bills to contact city hall to allow the city to work with them on a one-by-one basis.

The council tabled the water meter purchase until the May 13 meeting. Wright is looking into getting funding under the American Rescue Act and CARES Act funding through Nodaway County for the purchase.

Ordinance #2021-WR was read two times at the meeting and approved with Wieland abstaining. This ordinance adds the requirement for residents to connect to the water and sewer system for any property used for habitation, employment, recreation or other purposes within two weeks of occupancy.

A resident who has added a business to his residential property asked if he would need separate water and sewer meters. The answer is “no” since he has water and sewer to his home.

Ordinance #2021-Cemeteries, an ordinance designating rules and regulations for the three Skidmore Cemeteries, was read two times and approved with Wieland abstaining.

Ordinance #General Provisions of Utilities-2021 was read two times at the meeting and approved. This ordinance coordinates with the water and sewer ordinances which were approved at this and the March meeting.

Wright has applied for grants to put in a new basketball court at the Little Peoples Park and a shelter house at Wildcat Park. Morrow announced the athletic co-op, Nodaway Thunder, between Nodaway-Holt and West Nodaway will use the ballfield at Wildcat Park for a meet-and-greet on August 21.

New swing seats had been stored at city hall and will replace broken seats at the park. Three benches have been installed at Little People’s Park. There are nine more benches and picnic tables which will need to be installed. These were purchased and the city will be reimbursed with funds from a DNR grant upon completion of installation.

At the March 11 closed city council meeting, the council approved hiring and the contract with Dustin Strueby with Strueby Plumbing and Trenching, Conception Jct.