The second readings for water and sewer ordinances with increases effective January, 2022 passed unanimously at the North Sioux City Council meeting held Dec. 20.

The average residential water user will see a 25 percent increase to water rates, moving current base rates from $18 to $22.50 per 3,000 gallons and an increase from $3 to $3.75 for every 1,000 gallons used after 3,000. On the sewer side, a 10 percent increase was approved taking the base rate from $33.92 to $37.31 for 3,000 gallons and from the current $4.33 to $4.76 for every additional 1,000 gallons used.

(The ordinances detailing the increases for all customers can be found on pages 12-13 of this edition).

Agenda Items

Susan Mason was present, along with City Building Inspector Gary Roan, to discuss the Mason property at 111 Lloyd Avenue. City Administrator Eric Christensen said that the city began this process in 2019. There was a court date in order to remove property from the home and the Masons were unable to get into the home until March of 2021. A letter from the city was received in April 2021 that it needed to be demolished. The council had asked her to appear again, after the last meeting, when a letter from Roan said that the residence wasn’t in compliance. A signed agreement between the city and Burt Mason, in August, determined that work would be done to the residence by Dec. 1 in order to obtain an occupancy permit; otherwise the building would be demolished by Dec. 31.

North Sioux City Police Chief Rich Headid had recorded the inspection of the home on Dec. 16 with Roan present.

Roan said the Masons have been trying to communicate with the state inspector, whose office is in the midst of relatively new turnover, and have had trouble reaching him. Roan said he’s also had trouble reaching him. The plumbing inspector has been there twice and won’t do the final until the state inspector is okay with all the electrical work. There are a couple things that need to be completed with the plumbing.

“They’ve done a lot of work to this home,” Roan said. “There’s a lot left to be done. It’s nowhere near livable, as you can see, and the original agreement was to have it occupiable by Dec. 1 and that’s kind of gone. They’ve got a lot of time and effort and money into what they’ve done so far. It won’t be occupiable until it’s done right.”

The council asked Roan how long it would take for them to occupy the residence safely. He said he’s not completely sure, as there is a lot left to do to the house.

“I think we’ve been having this conversation for four months in a row,” council member Kodi Benson began. “You keep coming in. The contract that we have with Burt [Mason] in section I says, ‘By signing this agreement, the owner hereby waives any right to ask for an extension.’ I think we’re in breach of contract and it’s time to move on.”

“Even though we already have everything purchased to complete the house,” Susan Mason said. “And now it’s just a matter of waiting on inspections.”

The council seemed split on what to do. So, after further discussion, the council decided that Roan will continue to give progress updates at each council meeting.

Dwight Berglin of Quam, Berglin and Post, P.C. went through the city’s 2020 audit report. The findings of the report were the same as almost every year, with lack of segregation of duties. Council member Gary Bogenrief asked how they could get rid of that finding. Berglin said they would have to hire three to four more people.

“...[W]e’re not going to be getting rid of that write-up,” Christensen said. “We’ve learned to live with it.”

“We’ve had it for years,” council member Dan Parks said. “That’s why we’ve done the extra things, checking bank statements, signing invoices, things like that. Our city can’t have... they’ve acknowledged every year that that’s our one downfall.”

“It’s not a problem as long as you’re aware of the lack of segregation of duties,” Berglin said. “And you have some controls you can go out and look at.”

See full story in this week’s Dakota Dunes / North Sioux City Times.