Archive for Monday, July 26, 2010

Lawrence city leaders shelve plans for water, sewer rate increases

Trash service fee hike also reduced

The proposed city budget will keep taxes stable, eliminate 10 unfilled city jobs and pay for a new pothole patching machine that works even in cold weather.

The proposed city budget will keep taxes stable, eliminate 10 unfilled city jobs and pay for a new pothole patching machine that works even in cold weather.

July 26, 2010


It looks like Lawrence residents won’t be paying higher water and sewer rates in 2011 after all.

Water, sewer fees may not increase

The city commission may not vote to increase fees for water and sewer usage. Commissioners will meet Tuesday night at city hall. Enlarge video

After commissioners earlier this month expressed concerns about proposed increases of 4 percent for most users, City Hall staff members have taken rate increases out of next year’s budget.

“We’re taking a one year breather to help out the taxpayers, the residents,” said City Commissioner Rob Chestnut. “The last thing they need right now is an increase of any kind.”

Commissioners are set to approve the budget at their Tuesday evening meeting at City Hall.

With water and sewer rate increases apparently off the table, city residents are looking at virtually the same set of taxes and fees for 2011 as they have for 2010.

Commissioners long ago ruled out an increase in the property tax rate — it stays steady at 26.6 mills. Now, commissioners have directed staff members to reduce operating expenses in the city’s trash service to limit increases in trash rates.

Originally, staff members had proposed about a $1 per month increase in trash rates to help cover increased tipping fees at the landfill. But at the direction of commissioners, staff members have tightened that budget and now are proposing a 70-cent per month increase for residential customers, which amounts to a 5-percent increase.

Eliminating the water and sewer rate increases will require the city to put on hold some of their larger utility projects. That includes a project to improve the main water intake on the Kansas River. It also will slow plans to replace the 80-year old water tower in the 1200 block of Oread Avenue.

But City Manager David Corliss said he is confident that the one-year pause won’t cause the city to play catch-up on utility infrastructure projects, much like the city is doing currently with street projects.

“I think the main difference is that this pause is just going to be for one year,” Corliss said.

The utility budget will have adequate funding to do all types repair work needed on water and sewer lines. It also will provide funding for water and sewer master plans, which will produce a list of projects for the city to undertake in 2012 and beyond.

“We’ll be fine,” Commissioner Aron Cromwell said. “I had a number of people remind me that we can’t sit back and say we’re not raising taxes when we’re raising water and sewer rates. It all feels the same.”

Commissioners meet at 6:35 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall.


Driver_611400 7 years, 11 months ago

Remember, Public Transportation is a common target of international terrorism. You should support public transportation. Every time you disrespect the T, the terrorists WIN. Why do you hate America?

LogicMan 7 years, 11 months ago

Just a small distance off topic, Driver_611400. Trying to protect your job?

Back on subject, kudos to commissioners. But the LJW still needs to report on the monies that are being collected for the new south "water reclamation" (sewage treatment) plant, and where they've gone and are going. Also the status of that project.

Orwell 7 years, 11 months ago

Yeah. And while we're at it, let's go to private police and firefighting services.

Better yet, allow free-market competition in the police and fire markets. When your house catches fire, you can issue a request for bids.

Shardwurm 7 years, 11 months ago

“The last thing they need right now is an increase of any kind.”

I can't believe my eyes. Really? You want to run for County Commission?

Be careful, after the 'huge' out-pouring of support for county tax increases your offices may be picketed by people demanding an increase!

Maddy Griffin 7 years, 11 months ago

Wow! First time I've ever seen a rate hike turned down.

avoice 7 years, 11 months ago

This is similar to the City of Baldwin patting themselves on the back for giving the taxpayers a 1 mill decrease in the City budget the year that they wanted everyone to vote yes for a huge mill levy increase for the school district to build a new elementary building. What's coming up for vote in Lawrence that the City would like to help move forward? Yep, they're just trying to make people feel like they're saving money to ensure that everyone votes yes for the library expansion.

indianared 7 years, 11 months ago

Speaking of sewage utility bills, I recently learned that the rate charged the entire year is based upon usage in January, February, and March. This is all well and good unless, like me, you were living with two room mates in January, February and March, and began living alone in April. I called the water department because my bill had not gone down. I was told I will have to pay for two people's usage that no longer live in the house until next April. If you look on the FAQ's of the website, they are able to set rates based on monthly usage for folks who have not lived in their homes for a year and they say the check meters monthly for everyone. So why is the sewage rate not based upon actual use? I asked for a letter explaining this, but did not receive one. Anybody able to explain?

jafs 7 years, 11 months ago

Well, from my conversations with the city, they do it because many people water their lawns.

So, they set the sewer rates in the winter months when people aren't doing that, so they don't charge us for water used that doesn't go into the sewer system.

It has a somewhat negative effect on those of us who don't water our lawns, since we do more laundry during the winter, and folks like you.

whiteam 7 years, 11 months ago

Since the City doesn't meter wastewater usage it has to be based on water usage. Some options include using a percentage of water usage (for instance assume 85% of all water usage is returned to the sewer) or based on water usage during the winter quarter when water usage usually consists of only essential water usage. As the weather gets warmer, more people water their lawn and wash their cars which increases water usage but that water doesn't go to the sewer mains.

I suppose the City has to have a limit as to when they when they will re-calculate your average winter usage, otherwise, people could be calling in all the time complaining they had extraordinary circumstances during the winter quarter. They would probably get a lots of requests to have the average re-calculated so they limit it to just people who have been away for an extended period of time.

George Lippencott 7 years, 11 months ago

Good on you!

Am I to understand that residential rates are going up but not commercial rates?

Orwell 7 years, 11 months ago

They might suggest moving anti-tax deadbeats out of town to save on all sorts of public service expenses.

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