Special election will determine who operates Newton WaterWorks – Newton Daily News

Newton residents must decide by September whether they want WaterWorks to be permanently run by the city council rather than a board of directors.

In a special election scheduled for Sept. 13, registered voters in the city will be asked the question, “Will the Newton WaterWorks Board of Directors be dissolved and the City Council of Newton, Iowa, in the Jasper County, Iowa, assume the management and control obligations of Newton WaterWorks? »

Newton WaterWorks is a municipal utility responsible for providing an adequate supply of water to customers in the service area for domestic, commercial, industrial and firefighting purposes in an efficient, cost-effective and reliable manner, according to city council documents. .

The Newton WaterWorks Board of Directors is appointed by the Mayor and is subject to City Council approval. Trustees govern the public service much like the library board governs the Newton Public Library; like librarians, WaterWorks employees are considered municipal employees.

Earlier this year, the board gave the city day-to-day management of Newton WaterWorks on an interim basis for two months. The council acknowledged that the city provided “excellent management services” to clients and wanted to extend the interim management for another six months.

When the board met in March to vote on this application, it also approved a resolution recommending that governance of Newton WaterWorks be permanently assigned to the city council. Directors believe this change will improve efficiency, communication with other utilities and long-term capital improvement planning.

Brett Doerring, a trustee on the Newton WaterWorks board of directors for eight years, told board members April 18 that the utility had discussed and considered trying to find a new chief executive following the retirement of the present or the possibility of transferring governance to the city for some time.

The untimely death of former general manager Lloyd Dale “LD” Palmer in early January sped up the process, which Doerring says is why the city took over in the interim. Doerring said he gave WaterWorks a period of time in which he could observe utility operations under city control.

“It gave us a try, so to speak,” he said. “During that time, we saw that it was an extremely effective and efficient process to have the city under control.”

Before 1951, WaterWorks was actually governed by the city council, Doerring said, but it was a very different form of city government then. Indeed, each member of the council was a manager of various functions in the city, the water service being one of them. As the community grew, so did WaterWorks operations.

“As a result, on March 26, 1951, the community voted to turn water service over to a board of directors. And it’s been that way ever since,” Doerring said.

If the city were to take over WaterWorks, Doerring argued that there would be a number of opportunities for improvement projects. The timing system is in good condition, for example, but parts of it are 80-100 years old and will need to be fixed at some point in the future.

The water transmission lines that come from the plant at the bottom of the Skunk River to the city were laid in 1964, Doerring said. Currently, “nothing indicates that there is a problem”. But the old infrastructure may need to be fixed in the future before it becomes a problem.

Doerring also praised WaterWorks staff, who, like many city employees, “get called in at awkward hours for doing nasty things.” Financially, the utility is in “great shape”. Current cash and accounts receivable assets total $2.2 million; liabilities are $230,000 and long-term liabilities are $700,000.

“So financially we are strong,” Doerring said. “In terms of production and distribution: our average daily production is six million gallons. Our capacity is nine million. So we are well within our capacity at this point. Very important to note… Rural Water consumes two-thirds of WaterWorks production.

While the city of Newton consumes a third. Doerring said the city has been “a wonderful customer and partner” and is keeping water rates “extremely attractive to other similar utilities in the state of Iowa.”

Contact Christopher Braunschweig at 641-792-3121 ext. 6560 or [email protected]

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