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Part 2 of Reader’s Response

November 4, 2014
Emmetsburg News

To the Editor:

To meet the newspaper's space constraints, this letter is Part 2, addressing points that Mike Scott made in a recent letter to the editor.

Let me offer a couple of comments regarding Emmetsburg Municipal Utilities. Remember that there are 3 distinct utilities being managed by the EMU board; gas, water and sewer. The gas utility is in good financial standing even while charging some of the lowest rates around as compared to commercial providers like MidAmerican Energy or Black Hills Energy. Unfortunately, the water and sewer utilities are not in as financially robust a condition as the gas utility. To date, the EMU board has attempted to have each utility operate on its own. One example supporting this policy would be if you are a customer cooking with natural gas and heating your water and your home and your garage with natural gas, the board hasn't thought it would be fair to use profits from those sales to subsidize the water and sewer bills of, for example, your neighbor who does all of those things with electricity. Why would we take the profits from selling you gas to subsidize your neighbor's water and sewer bill?

Water and sewer rate increases are not taken lightly. But the utility needs to charge a rate that pays its expenses and hopefully allows for replacing some infrastructure in the future. The sewer utility in particular is probably going to be looking at some significant capital outlays down the road; some to replace or upgrade crumbling infrastructure, and some to meet EPA and DNR mandates.

So one should not confuse a contribution for the communities benefit from the financially sound gas utility with a rate increase required by the water and sewer utilities, which may unfortunately all happen at a similar time.

Your city council members and your EMU board members are all well versed in these issues. If you have questions, just ask them. They will do their best to explain these things to you, or will find someone who can provide those explanations for you. Many decisions these public servants make are complicated and not easy. None of us are perfect. We all try to gather as much relevant information as we can and make the best decisions we can with the best interests of the citizens of the community as a whole in mind. We are not all going to agree on every decision; not always at the council or board level certainly not all across our community. But we need to move forward together in a positive and respectful manner.


(signed) Kirk Haack

EMU Board member

Former City Council member



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