To the editor:
For those of you who don’t know me, I have served as a Woodward City Councilman for seven years. Our current council, including our mayor, comprises residents who have raised (and are raising) their families in Woodward and care deeply about it. We have striven to do our best to improve our community, usually with great criticism by some. We pay the same water/sewer bills and property taxes everyone else does.
I want to speak to a few statements and assertions that have been made on the Woodward News facebook page. Specifically, regarding water, sewer and our newest street. My goal is not to create any type of argument or criticism of anyone but to share some factual information so that people understand more clearly some of the things we have done.
Many of the statements that have been made on posts are incorrect.
The water plant: It’s been said that the new water plant was built because we were planning for future growth. This is incorrect. Our old facility was more than 45 years old, was literally falling apart and had doubled its life expectancy. We had no choice but to find another solution.
The city had an engineering firm do a study to determine what our best options were.
- Option 1: Update and retrofit the old facility at an estimated cost $1.1 million and with a life expectancy for the retrofit of 10 years.
- Option 2: Build a new plant to service the existing population only at an estimated cost $1.6 million and with a life expectancy for the new facility of 20 years.
- Option 3: Build a new plant that would service future growth — up to 2,500 in population and with potential future sale of water to the state hospital — at an estimated cost of $1.9 million and with a life expectancy of 20 years.
We chose option 3.
Water Rates: We are not even close to the highest water rates in the state. For a 5,000 gallon per month user, the cost of water in Woodward is about $62 per month. For a 10,000 gallon per month user, it is $102 per month.
By contrast, in Stuart a 5,000 gallon user pays $85, and a 10,000 gallon user pays $148. In Panora a 5,000 gallon user pays $75, and a 10,000 gallon user pays $158. On top of that, add sewer, stormwater and garbage fees. For my family, our bill runs around between $150 and $160 per month.
Sewer/Lagoon: We are being required by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to update our lagoon system. We have no choice in this matter. We are raising user fees to pay the debt instead of raising property taxes.
If we would have used property tax revenue, the people who have higher-value homes and our local businesses would have paid more towards the debt even if they used the service less than their neighbors. And if your property value increased, you would pay even more.
By increasing the user fee and using to finance the lagoon improvements, every user pays the same. This was the fairest option we could do. This was the same option we used to finance the water plant as well.
Street: Not one single cent of residential property tax monies or water/sewer/user fees are being used to pay for the street. This project is solely financed by tax increment financing (TIF) funds and the sale proceeds of the lots.
This entire project has been self-funded. When the city had to find property to build the new water plant, we had to buy the entire property. By developing these lots, we can pay for the street and create more than $1.5 million in property tax value.
At every council meeting we have an open forum so that citizens who sign up in advance can share their thoughts and opinions. If you don’t have time to do that, our minutes are posted on the city’s website.
All of the information we use to make these decisions is part of the public record and can be read and reviewed at the Woodward City Hall. And councilmen are willing to answer questions if asked.
We are constantly looking for persons who are willing to participate on different committees and in various roles. We need people who care about their community to be involved. We will have three council seats up for election in November. All you need is to live in Woodward and get 10 signatures of support to get on ballot. More information can be provided at city hall if interested.