City council approves water-rate increase
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.