Archive for Thursday, December 18, 2008

City council approves water-rate increase

December 18, 2008

Action at Monday night’s Baldwin City Council paved the way for the city to take over two cemeteries and raise water rates. But the water issue didn’t go down without one last tussle.

On Jan. 1, residents will see an additional 33 cents per 100 cubic feet of water added to their bill. That’s what the city of Lawrence, where Baldwin City’s water comes from, tacked onto its charge this year.

Council Member Ted Brecheisen Jr. opposed the measure on its first reading two weeks ago and tried one more time Monday to stop the increase.

“I would make a motion to hold off on this until next year,” said Brecheisen.

The motion died for a lack of a second. Council Member Doyle Jardon made the motion to approve the increase, which was seconded by Council Member Ken Wagner.

“I understand where Junior is coming from, but if we hold off on these pass-throughs, we will be playing catch up,” said Wagner.

City Administrator Jeff Dingman said the increase from Lawrence has been higher the last two years and he’s not sure why.

“They’ve increased the pass-throughs quite a bit,” said Dingman. “It used to be five or 10 cents, now it’s 33 or 35 cents.”

Mayor Gary Walbridge said that ratepayers have the ability to reduce their consumption of whatever utility.

“It’s a choice people make,” said Walbridge.

The increase was approved on a 4-1 vote, with Brecheisen voting against it.

The council also approved two measures regarding the ownership of Oakwood Cemetery and Pioneer Cemetery. The Baldwin City Cemetery Company proposed deeding the cemeteries over to the city last year.

The council approved the takeover and also regulations outlining how the cemeteries will be run on 5-0 votes. However, the takeover will be delayed until a surveyor can come up with a legal description of the properties.

“Records are incomplete going back to when the property was given to the cemetery company,” said City Attorney Matt Hoy. “It’s (having a survey) the smart way to go.”

The council also approved cereal malt beverage licenses for the upcoming year for three Baldwin City businesses — Santa Fe Market, Kwik Shop and Pizza Hut. In another alcohol-related item, the council approved on first reading a change in the ordinance regarding liquor license fees.

The fee that has been charged for years was only for retail liquor sales from liquor stores. The bars that sell liquor have been charged the same fee, $300, and the ordinance change would just change the wording to reflect liquor by the drink instead of retail sales.

It sparked a discussion by council members regarding the liquor fees being so much higher than the cereal malt beverage licenses. The CMBs only cost $100. No decision was made on a possible change there and it’s likely to be discussed at the next meeting on second reading.

The council also heard a report from Steve Friend, director of the Baldwin City Recreation Commission. He informed them that a survey would be done regarding what to do with the 63-acre Baldwin City Municipal Golf Course, which is owned by the city but is to be used for other recreational purposes, too. Friend had planned a mail survey, but Wagner suggested that it be online, too. Dingman and Friend were to work out the details on the survey.

Comments

rateraiser 5 years, 4 months ago

"Mayor Gary Walbridge said that ratepayers have the ability to reduce their consumption of whatever utility."

Yeah I guess I won't be showering, washing my clothes, or drinking anything that contains water any more. Standard monthly consumption in my household is between 500 and 600 cubic feet. That is only using water for the necessities. So if you figure in equal amount of sewer that is about a $90.00 bill each month for sewer and water combined. I'm not even going to get into about how we are screwed compared to neighboring towns....just see recent posts.

Walbridge...you obviously just don't get the point! Let us know when you come back to reality.

"American Water Works Association estimates that the typical single-family home uses 69.3 gallons of water per person each day for indoor purposes. "

This means a person living alone should use about 277 cubic feet per month. This means that a family of three should use about 554 cubic feet per month. This means that a family of four should use about 1111 cubic feet per month. This means that a family of five should use about 1389 cubic feet per month...and so forth.

Therefore my household uses less than half the national average per month.

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TheOnlyGreyghost 5 years, 4 months ago

I feel your frustration, rateraiser, but do not see how this is Gary Walbridge's or the council's fault. Lawrence raised our rates. What happens if Baldwin doesn't pass that extra charge along to consumers? If the city swallows the cost, they'll inevitably have to recoup the money elsewhere. Should they raise our taxes across the board?

Personally, I'd rather pay for our household's extra consumption, as we can probably do a better job of conserving water. I agree that our rates are higher than they should be and that it bites that Lawrence is raising them again. But I'm unclear as to how you think our city officials could've handled this better.

Do you have a way to meet the extra charge that does not involve each household paying more? I'm sure we'd all like to hear it. If it's feasible, maybe the city will implement your plan. The officials would probably be delighted with an idea that would solve the problem of the higher rates while making them look good at the same time.

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rateraiser 5 years, 4 months ago

theonlygreyghost,

I understand the need to raise our rates when Lawrence adjusts theirs, but have you seen the water cost comparison blog. It's obvious that the city can not charge a lower cost for water than what they have to pay for it, but again...look at the water cost comparison blog.

Alot of money is being wasted somewhere if the current amount we are paying for water is considered reasonable to operate and maintain the system. Especially when every other town in the nation is able to do it. It doesn't make any sense to say that that is the rate we have to charge to keep our systems going. Does the City Council think that Baldwin City is the only town to ever have to upgrade or replace water systems.

The city council needs to cut costs and make the operations run more efficiently with less manpower. The obvious solution is to do a complete overhaul of the city's budget and operations to see what is being done wrong and how it can be changed. Maybe the problem isn't with the cost of operations and maintanence, it might be the case that too much money is being spent elsewhere that is causing the problem. I don't know...it's not my job to know. But, if the majority of towns in the are/USA can run efficiently AND charge reasonable rates, then there is no reason Baldwin can't.

I'm sure the officials would be delighted with an idea about how to solve the problem. It's not like anyone has ever came to a city council meeting and expressed their frustration/opinions. Is it the job of every person in this town to come up with a solution on how to fix our utility rates. NO! That is why they are elected officials. Their duty is to make sure the taxpayers money is being spent wisely and in the most efficient way possible. I don't believe this is being done. i.e. substantial pay raise during tough economic times (I have no problem with COLA), new animal control vehicle/position.

Baldwin is going to go to hell in a handbasket within 5 years if the city council can not find a way to make it more affordable to live here. High street business district will no doubt be almost non-existent I can guartantee you that. (Not at the fault of business owners). And then what happens to Maple Leaf?

As for my comment about Walbridge....I was only try to show how stupid of a comment it was to make. Everybody knows if something is expensive then you try to use less of it to dampen the effect. The point is that no matter how small of a consumption you use it is still extremely too high in relationship to what the rest of the area/USA pay. I'm certain the majority of people in Baldwin have already reduced their consumption to near minimum. It's water....not gasoline...you can't live without it.

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beevo 5 years, 4 months ago

The Baldwin City Council actions continue to have a destructive effect on the quality of life in our city. Mayor Gary Walbridge pronouncement that Baldwin ratepayers have the ability to further reduce their consumption of water is in a word STUPID! For many of us who are living on a fix income our disposable income has vanished. Financially my family has already been forced to cut back so much, including water, that it is now having a destructive effect on our quality of life. It is too bad the Baldwin City Council seems to have only has one member, Ted Brecheisen Jr., who understands the damaging effects that our city council’s monetary actions are having on our community. In this time of financial crisis, what is our city council doing to decrease the city governments consumption of its residents money? With cost of living here now so costly what is going to happen to Baldwin City? It seems towns who don’t grow often decay and/or die. Please let’s not let that happen to Baldwin.

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