Archive for Thursday, January 12, 2006

City council approves hike in monthly wastewater rate

January 12, 2006

The Eudora City Council faced a decision at its Monday meeting with an outcome of two possibly unpopular options.

The first option would have been to do nothing and consequently let the city's finances fall into debt. The second would result in charging a higher wastewater rate during the next billing period.

After two sessions of discussion, the council voted to raise rates.

"You don't have any choice on this or you will face a financial crisis. You must raise rates," city administrator Cheryl Beatty said.

The new monthly base rate for residential wastewater services will be $18.60 with $3.50 charged for every 1,000 gallons.

After years at the old sewer rate, Eudora was left scrambling to make payments on a loan from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment for sewer improvements.

The rate hike also allows for some funds to remain for maintenance of the treatment plant.

"The reason I don't want to lower the capital much more is because Eudora had put off and put off major repairs that need to be done -- and major improvements. I don't suggest you reduce capital," Beatty said.

The council originally heard an appeal for the hike at its previous meeting. Since that meeting, Beatty researched rate structures with representatives from BG Consultants.

Beatty came back to the council with two different possible structures for the new rate.

First would have been kinder to industry with the base rate raised to $19.50 and $3.25 for every 1,000 gallons.

The council considered the second option as more kind to residents.

"I don't think anybody sitting at this table wants to raise rates on the people because we're part of the public," Eudora Mayor Tom Pyle said.

In addition to raising rates, the council worked with the city attorney to make wastewater ordinances more clear. A rate hike approved a few years ago on a small segment of the city never took place.

Along with the current spike, the city will be looking at the rate structures each quarter to determine how well it can pay off the Kansas Department of Health and Environment loan.

While the city continues to look at wastewater rates, officials are also at work to determine the feasibility of levying impact fees on construction.

"We are truly going to look at every means possible to save you money," Beatty said.

Although the vote to raise the rates was unanimous by the council, members were aware of the affect it could have on some residents.

"The worst part of this for the people on a fixed income ---- this is quite a jump up," Councilman Scott Hopson said. "Our backs are against the wall; we don't have a choice. We have to pay our debt, and there's no two ways about that."

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