Archive for Thursday, January 5, 2006

Sewer rate hike underscores folly of delayed action

January 5, 2006

There's an adage among city officials we've heard in the past concerning utility rate increases. This passed on wisdom suggests you don't do anyone a favor when you delay a rate increase. The thinking is that eventually customers will have to pay the price of producing electricity, water or providing sewer service. When smaller needed rate increases aren't passed on, customers get hit with sticker shock when rates are inevitably raised.

Eudora sewer customers will experience the truth of that adage in the coming months when a rate adjustment becomes effective that is expected to increase the average residential customers monthly rate by at least $15. The consequence is obvious to those on fixed incomes who are used to budgeting at the old rate.

Council members pointed to past inaction by their predecessors as the culprit. But of course it's not any more popular to raise rates than to increase taxes, so the newly informed council members will have to display the wisdom and, perhaps, courage those predecessors lacked by calling its professional staff to make periodic reviews of the cities three main utilities.

But, as we've said before, a city growing as fast as Eudora needs to be more creative in its utility funding. And it was encouraging to hear that council was also raising tap fees as part of the rate-hike package. It's fair to ask current customers to pay for improvements to existing city utilities, but it is also fair to look for those creating new demand to pay for future improvements.

This thinking, too, should be extended to the city's other utilities. Also back for reconsideration is an excise tax, which the council explored last year.

Lawrence is undertaking a thorough review of the cost of development in that city. That review's findings and action taken on them could significantly change the development atmosphere in Douglas County. It would appear prudent for Eudora city officials to watch how that report is received and any actions in response.

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