Archive for Thursday, June 5, 2008

Residents protest notification

June 5, 2008

Bob and Marilyn Lindeen were informed by a letter May 28 that the city of Eudora would be taking over electrical service from Westar Energy just two days before the changeover was to set to occur.

"It's outrageous," Bob Lindeen said. "We should have had a meeting with the council way down the road before this ever happened."

After angering the Lindeens and about 14 other owners of electric meters in the area of North 1300 Road, City Administrator Cheryl Beatty said Wednesday the city now is in talks to lease the line back to Westar.

In the context of electricity, cities have a right to serve homes within their city limits. Because Eudora had intended on annexing the area where the Lindeens live, Westar released the line to the city in November.

The plan was for the Eudora City Council to annex the area, but that was cancelled in January because of a concern that continued annexation in an area embroiled in a lawsuit with Rural Water District No. 4 would further aggravate the situation.

The city would regain rights to provide residents in the area with electricity once the area is annexed into the city, which could happen within the next year.

Eudora notified 14 other owners who were being annexed into the city as early as six weeks prior to the change of the service.

"We had all the intentions in the world of notifying these people; these are the ones we tripped up on," City Administrator Cheryl Beatty said. "We recognize that we made a mistake, and we will be talking with Westar this week.

Beatty said the letter should have been sent a week in advance, but officials at the Kansas Corporation Commission said both Eudora and Westar should have notified the residents much earlier. Notification should have been given before the two parties began talks for the transition of ownership of the line, and not after the fate of the line was decided, they said.

KCC Public Information Officer Rosemary Foreman said the agency had a very limited amount of authority over the actions of cities in such instances, but it was investigating the incident.

Lindeen said he welcomed annexation into the city, but he did not welcome the 50 percent surcharge that will be attached to his electrical bill each month as a result of not yet being within the city limits despite receiving electric service from the city.

"I don't think there should be a surcharge at all," he said. "Is that the way they're going to treat the people who are coming into the city?"

Beatty said the charge is common and is a result of customers who use city utilities and services but do not pay taxes to the city because they are not within the city limits.

Beatty said Mayor Tom Pyle would ask the city council at Monday's meeting to reduce the surcharge.


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