Council looks at water rate increase
Ken Wagner knows Baldwin's utility rates are high.
Residents have seen such an increase in utility bills in recent years, that the Baldwin City Council Member said when the discussion of raising the town's water rates began again, there was much debate.
"The utility committee talked at length about the issue," Wagner said. "We don't take these rate increases lightly."
But a 5.7-percent rate increase is what the utility committee ultimately recommended to the council at Monday's meeting.
Council will decide at the April 5 meeting whether to approve the committee's recommendation of increasing the city's water rates from $5.07 to $5.36 per cubic 100 feet -- a 29-cent increase.
Wagner told the council the increase is necessary to fund Baldwin's water system improvement project -- two new water towers and the extension of the 12-inch water main -- and meet the Kansas Department of Health and Environment's state revolving loan obligations for the project.
He said when the water project was approved in 2002, the estimated cost was about $2.4 million. At the time, the city thought water rates would need to be increased by 86 cents per 100 cubic feet of water, an increase which the council planned to implement in two stages.
In August 2003, the council approved an initial 42-cent per 100 cubic feet of water increase in rates, with the plan for an additional 44-cent increase in the future.
But because the water project came in under budget at $1.8 million, Wagner said, only a 29-cent increase in rates needs to be considered by council.
Though the rate increase is not as much as once anticipated, he said, he knows there will still be concerns about utility fees.
"I understand our rates are high," he said. "We don't recommend these things lightly."
But he said these infrastructure improvements are needed for Baldwin's future as the town continues to grow.
"Unfortunately, it comes with a cost," he said.
In other business, the council:
- Approved in a 5-0 vote the purchase of Pebble Tec, a new surface for the Baldwin City Public Pool, for approximately $35,000.
Monte Ezell, Baldwin City Recreation Commission director, told the council the Pebble Tec would be placed in the zero-depth entry and underneath the slide at the pool. He said resurfacing the pool with Pebble Tec, which is expected to last 15-20 years, would cut down on the cost and labor of scraping and repainting the pool that is done every year.
- Approved in a 5-0 vote to grant use of the sidewalks for this year's Maple Leaf Festival.
- Heard a report from Roger Boyd about Baldwin's Tree Board. Boyd told the council the city recently received Tree City USA status.