Archive for Thursday, January 11, 2007

Council passes new water utility

January 11, 2007

The $2 increase residents will see in their next water bill isn't a typo. The increase will go to fund a newly created stormwater utility fund.

The Eudora City Council passed an ordinance Monday officially creating the utility.

The city established the utility to help pay for stormwater issues within the city. The first major project will be a new storm drain, which will be part of the city's ongoing downtown beautification grant.

"Remember this is how we talked about financing our storm drain project on Main Street," Beatty said. "So we need to get going on establishing our utility if we want to go forward with our storm drain project on Main Street."

The council first discussed the possibility last August and directed Beatty to study similar fees across the state.

With results in hand, Beatty offered the council two different options for establishing the utility.

The first plan enacts a flat fee for both residential and commercial properties. The second takes property measurements into account and charges owners on a sliding scale.

"It becomes very complicated," Beatty said.

To enforce the sliding scale the city would have to measure every residential and commercial property to determine the correct fee, Beatty said.

Because of the relative simplicity of the flat fee, Beatty urged the council to adopt the flat $2 increase.

"I would much rather go along with a flat rate, as opposed to measuring and all the other stuff that goes on," Eudora Mayor Tom Pyle said.

The council agreed to charge a flat fee.

"We can't get into the high dollar charge, but we can certainly (ask for) $2," Pyle said.

According to city figures, there are currently about 2,500 utility customers in the city. With the new fee the city could raise about $60,000 a year for stormwater projects. In particular, income from the hike would be enough to cover bond payments for the Main Street drainage project, Beatty said.

"I wanted to get the kind of revenue we needed to generate," Beatty said.

Eudora City Councilman Jeff Peterson, a financial planner, verified Beatty's calculations.

"In order, to reach the fiscal role that needs to be met, the flat rate would certainly do that," he said.

After discussing the possibility of charging business property owners a higher rate, the council decided to keep the $2 fee the same for everyone.

"At this point we just need enough to generate revenue," Beatty said.

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