- Associated Press - Thursday, June 30, 2016

BLUE GRASS, Iowa (AP) - Informational meetings have been scheduled to give residents of Blue Grass in eastern Iowa details about their City Council’s decision to sell the community’s water system if voters approve.

Iowa American Water has offered $1.3 million for the system, according to the Quad-City Times (https://bit.ly/29c1pSb).

Mayor Tim Brandenburg said the system needs significant upgrades the city can’t afford without charging additional fees or raising taxes. He said it will cost between $6 million and $8 million to bring the water tower and water system up to the necessary standards.

“The system doesn’t have the capacity for a city this size,” Brandenburg said. Blue Grass has about 1,600 residents.

The meetings are set for Thursday and July 12 at the Blue Grass Community Center.

Iowa American Water spokeswoman Lisa Reisen said the utility is always looking to expand, and she noted the company has a line about 2½ miles from Blue Grass. It would take about three years to build the infrastructure needed to deliver water from that line to the city, Reisen said.

“Blue Grass is very close to our footprint and it would be a logical place to grow and in the process we would help that community grow,” Reisen said.

Water rates wouldn’t immediately rise if the system is sold to Iowa American Water. But Brandenburg said if voters reject a sale, he thinks the city would have to increase rates and institute a fee on water meters installed in homes.

“We would have to do that in order to create the funds to pay for the necessary upgrades,” he said.

Voters will decide the issue during an Aug. 2 special election.

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Information from: Quad-City Times, https://www.qctimes.com

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