Archive for Thursday, June 23, 2005

Water, sewer rates might see increases

June 23, 2005

It appears that Baldwin City residents are on their way to higher water and sewer rates. Water rates were last hiked in September and it's been two years since sewer rates went up.

Baldwin City Council members were presented with numbers on first reading for both ordinances that would raise rates. It won't come before a vote until second reading at the July 11 meeting. Water rates would go up 82 cents per 100 cubic feet. Sewer rates would rise 45 cents per 100 cubic feet.

The water-rate rise results from increased costs from the city's supplier, Lawrence, for treating water and the need to establish a fund to pay for a major project involving the city's water supply.

"We've got some major projects coming up, most notably in the Baker Wetlands," said City Administrator Jeff Dingman.

The city's waterline used to bring water from Lawrence is under the Baker Wetlands. During the past several years, the water line has broken, cutting off the supply and causing major costs to the city to repair the line.

The project is expected to cost around $1 million. Dingman told the council the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which controls access to the wetlands, has informed the city that costs for the project could go up. Dingman indicated the project shouldn't be delayed much longer.

The rate increase amounts to 12 cents per 100 cubic feet for the additional cost of water from Lawrence and 70 cents per 100 cubic feet to be used to pay to relocate the water line.

At one point, the increase was going to be made in two phases, the first in September and then again before the first of the year. But, Dingman told the council that for various reasons, most notably the short time frame between the two phases, it made more sense to make the increase all at once.

"There is some logic to that," said Council Member Nancy Brown. "We only get zinged once for raising rates."

The utility committee discussed different rate structures for sewer, but decided that the proposed increase was fairest in regards to usage. Instead of a change in the base rate which would effect every user the same, the rate change puts a premium on usage.

"The committee just felt it was more fair," said Council Member Ted Brecheisen Jr.

In other business, the council unanimously approved the purchase of a new dump truck at a cost of $84,139. The truck will eventually replace the current truck, which is 10 years old. There was a lower bid for the truck, but City Staff Member Bill Wynegar said the KC Freightliner bid that was accepted was the better truck.

"The International bid was lower, but didn't meet specifications," said Wynegar.

The truck will be used for many purposes, including transporting asphalt for road repairs, removal of a multitude of items and one of those favorite seasonal chores.

"It will be used as a snow plow, too," he said. "All of our vehicles have multiple uses."

The council also approved a replat of Elm Street south of the Baldwin Elementary School Intermediate Center. The action moves where the road will go by 80 feet and will allow for the eventual location of four ball fields in the area.

"In order for four diamonds to fit in, the road will have to be shifted," said Tina Rakes, city inspector. "It's a very simple replat."

The council also approved on second reading an ordinance that raises court costs in Municipal Court from $16 to $50.

Several other items for consideration were tabled until the next meeting, now scheduled for July 11. Instead of meeting the first and third Mondays of July, the council changed dates to the second and fourth Mondays because of the July 4 holiday. The council also met for 20 minutes in executive session regarding land acquisition, but no vote was taken following the closed-door session.

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