Archive for Thursday, August 24, 2006

City considers storm water utility

August 24, 2006

Eudora residents may soon be asked to pay a new monthly fee to be used to address storm water issues in the city.

At its Aug. 14 meeting, the Eudora City Council directed City Administrator Cheryl Beatty to continue to refine an ordinance that would create a new utility to help pay for improvements to control the problem.

"We have several storm utility issues that we're trying to address now and have no funds," Beatty said.

Eudora Councilman Bill Whitten originally asked Beatty to study what similar-sized cities have done to deal with inflow and infiltration.

"The main reason we're setting this up is that when we reach 10,000, it's federally mandated we have a plan in place," Whitten said. "Either you reach a certain date or population, whichever comes first."

The original plan would have added a set rate to every citizen's water bill.

Beatty lined out the possibility for creating the ordinance.

"Once that ordinance is published, then we would attach that to the monthly utility bill and each customer having a water meter would be paying a $2 per water meter fee for storm water drainage utility issues in the city of Eudora," Beatty said.

The proceeds from the utility would be collected in a fund to pay for major storm water prevention projects.

Although the concept of creating a utility gained support from the council, questions arose as to how businesses like Pinecrest Apartments should be treated. Pinecrest has multiple living units connected to one water meter.

Beatty suggested a different option.

Some cities charge on a per meter basis or per-foot basis based on the size of the customer's parking lot, Beatty said.

"If you set up per foot of lot, or per-square foot covered, then (citizens) pay extremely higher prices," Beatty said.

Councilman Kevin Miller was in favor of looking at a different base rate.

"Seeing as we're raising the mill levy for the budget, maybe we could start the rate at say a dollar a month," Miller said. "I would like to see that start sort of low on residents then have a different rate for business."

The $2 method was just one of many used by surrounding cities, Beatty said.

"I picked this one because it was the simplest," Beatty said.

A combined fee method could have the best of both worlds, Whitten said.

"I think by lowering that to $1 per month, and coming up with something for commercial, you can offset your costs and come up with the same thing," Whitten said.

Although the flat $2 fee was an option, the main point of introducing the ordinance was to initiate discussion, Beatty said.

Beatty said she would return to the council with more options to set up the fund.

"Let's get it going, so we can find something," Beatty said.

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