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As new residents continue to call Eldridge home, the city wants to map out goals for the future by updating its strategic plan.

Eldridge plans to increase its sewer rates again this year to pay for a $9 million loan on a sewer system expansion now under construction. 

At its meeting Monday night, the Eldridge City Council voted 4-0 to approve the first reading of an ordinance increasing sewer rates by 7 percent for residential and commercial/industrial users. Council member Adrian Blackwell was absent.

City Administrator John Dowd said the increase is the third of seven planned annual increases. "This is another step in a multi-year plan to adjust rates to pay for the debt we're incurring with the sewer project... ." 

The $15 million project will upgrade Eldridge's sewer plant and expand sewer lines to the city's west and south sides, including an undeveloped area where future plans call for developing a 500-acre industrial park. The work, which began in May, is expected to be completed by March 2020.  

Dowd added the city also anticipates increased operating costs after the sewer system is expanded.

Under the new sewer rates, residential and commercial/industrial users will pay 72 cents per 100 gallons for those using up to 90,000 gallons, and 62 cents per 100 gallons for those using more than 90,000 gallons. Residential rates now are 67 cents per 100 gallons and 58 cents per 100 gallons, respectively. Commercial and industrial users now pay 68 cents per 100 gallons and 54 cents per 100 gallons, respectively. 

Residential rates will be based on their average water consumption in January, February and March and be re-calculated each year prior to the April billing. Commercial rates are based on monthly water usage. The minimum billing will be $32.01.

The city also is planning rate increases of 5 percent, 2.5 percent, 2.5 percent and 2.25 percent over the next four years, Dowd said. 

The new rates will go into effect April 1. The ordinance requires two more readings. 

In other business: 

The council unanimously approved the appointment of Deanna Jensen-Valliere to the Eldridge Community Center board. Jensen-Valliere, the past chairwoman of the Quad-Cities Convention & Visitors Bureau, replaces outgoing member Arliss Whisler. 

Mayor Marty O'Boyle proclaimed January as Mentoring Month in Eldridge on behalf of Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Mississippi Valley. 

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