Archive for Thursday, October 11, 2007

Council OKs utility rate hikes

October 11, 2007

The Eudora City Council approved measures Monday that would raise fees for four city utilities at the start of each year.

Starting Jan. 1, 2008, and at the start of each year after, the city's water, wastewater, stormwater and electricity utility rates will be raised by 3 percent.

"We talked about doing smart business and ways of keeping up with utilities rather than consistently raising rates in an up-and-down rollercoaster type way," Eudora City Administrator Cheryl Beatty said. "It's recommended by a utility rate manager you do it consistently as a cost-of-living raise."

The council began discussing the rate increases during budget meetings earlier in the year, but Beatty said she didn't have the ordinances ready until Monday's meeting.

For each billing cycle, the city charges residents for the previous month's usage.

That means totals on the October bill come from meters being read in September that reflect energy used in August.

City clerks use a base electric rate of 8.6 cents per kilowatt hour. There's a 5.5-cent surcharge for all additional thousand-kilowatt hours used during November though May. With the seasonal adjustments, the actual electric rate for a month fluctuates further because of the city's contract with Westar Energy Inc.

"We pay Westar for a certain amount of usage. If we go over or under it goes back to the residents," utility and payroll clerk Renee Shackelford said.

For water, the city charges $9.90 for the first 1,000 gallons and $4.50 for each additional 1,000 gallons used.

The sewer rate is calculated by the average water use billed per household from December to February each year, city utility clerk Christy Morris said.

"The more water you use the higher the sewer bill is," Morris said.

For sewage there's a base rate of $18.60 for the first 1,000 gallons and an additional $3.50 is charged for each 1,000 gallons after that. The average city household uses about 4,000 gallons of water during that time period and is charged a monthly rate of $29.10.

The city also charges water customers an additional $2 per month for the stormwater utility. It, too, will increase 3 percent at the start of the year.

The council voted on the planned increases in two separate motions because the city's stormwater utility was established through a charter ordinance.

The new annual rate increases could harm those on a fixed income, city treasurer Marge Gronniger said from the audience during discussion.

Councilman Bill Whitten said as pay goes up, the price of materials and the cost of business also go up.

"If we don't raise them right now, we're going to be four years down the road and instead of having a 3-percent hike we're going to be having a 15-percent hike," Whitten said.

The council unanimously voted to approve the increases.

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