Council approves rate increase to city water bills
The City Council Monday night approved an increase to the water bills of its nearly 1,200 customers.
City Administrator Larry Paine recommended a 15 percent increase to the cost of water and an increase from $3.63 to $5.30 to the monthly service fee for water.
The increase reflects Baldwin being charged more for treated water by the City of Lawrence. The increase also will pay for more than $1 million of capital improvements to Baldwin's water infrastructure.
Scheduled improvements include: replacement of the city's fire hydrants; water line replacement on Ninth, High and Fremont streets; replacement of the city's water line from Lawrence to Baldwin and replacement of water pumps at a pump station north of town.
"The things we are trying to accomplish with the water rate are designed to bring better water service to the community," Paine said.
The rate Baldwin charges Wellsville and Edgerton for water is also being adjusted, Paine said, through a one-time charge or an increase to the rate the cities are charged.
Paine compared the new water rates customers will be charged to surrounding communities.
"Only Garnett has a higher rate than Baldwin," Paine said.
However, council members unanimously improved the increase. Paine said an average residential bill would raise from $33 to $40, starting with the May billing.
"We don't have any choice," said Gene Nelson, a member of the council. "We have to have water in Baldwin."
Paine said the water pump replacement, which should be completed by Aug. 1, will increase Baldwin's water pressure. Replacement of water lines will provide better service to customers and better fire protection. The water line from Lawrence to Baldwin is being moved to dry territory it is currently under the Baker Wetlands, making breaks and leaks in the line hard to detect. Rural Water District No. 4 will share in the cost of the line replacement.