City to debate water rate hike
The city's water customers could see a bill increase as soon as May. City Administrator Larry Paine is recommending a water rate increase to the City Council. The council is scheduled to discuss and take action on the increase at Monday night's meeting.
The meeting begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Baldwin City Public Library meeting room.
Paine will recommend a 15 percent increase to the cost of water and an increase from $3.63 to $5.30 to the monthly service fee. He said an average residential bill would raise from $30 to $35-36.
City officials have been studying the rate increase for months, and the city's Utility Committee discussed the need for the increase Monday night.
Paine said part of the increase is the result of the city being charged more for water by Lawrence, where the city receives its water and where it is treated.
"We haven't got a choice," Paine said. "It's kind of like the price of gas."
The increase will also 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.
"You put all those projects together and that is the first phase of a capital improvement plan for water," Paine said. "It demonstrates we are doing things in town for our customers that we can see."
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.
"Substandard pipe will be replaced with larger diameter pipes, so when one person is using the water it doesn't turn it off for their neighbor," Paine said.
Paine will also recommend the council adopt an ordinance allowing one seat of the Baldwin City Public Library board be held by a rural resident. Paine said recommendations Mayor Stan Krysztof has received for vacancies have often lived outside the city limits.
"It's an optional thing," Paine said. "We may choose someone from outside the city limits, or someone in town."
There are seven members on the library board.
Also Monday night, the council met as a whole to discuss needed capital improvements to the city's infrastructure. Paine said areas such as streets, electricity, water and storm sewers were discussed, but no action was taken.
"It was a rock skip over the issue of how we are going to approach things," he said.