Archive for Monday, March 11, 2013

City of Lawrence to consider rate increases for water and sewer bills

March 11, 2013


Just in time for grass-growing season, Lawrence city commissioners at their meeting Tuesday will consider increasing water and sewer rates.

Commissioners at their weekly meeting will be asked to approve a new rate plan that would increase rates by about 6 percent for the typical residential customer.

The plan also calls for similar annual increases through 2017, but future commissions will have to approve those increases before they take effect.

Commissioners on Tuesday will be urged by staff members to approve the 2013 rates, which are slated to help pay for everything from a new sewage treatment plant to new equipment to help alleviate taste and odor issues with the city’s drinking water.

“We think what we’re asking for is real important to serve the community not just today, but into the future,” said Dave Wagner, director of the city’s utilities department.

But the improvements will require a different mindset on water and sewer rates for the future. Since 2008, the water and sewer bill of an average residential user has increased about 2.5 percent per year, according to data from the city. The rate plan currently being proposed calls for annual increases that average about 5.7 percent per year between now and 2017.

Here’s a look at some of the projects the proposed rate increases would fund between now and 2017:

• About $63 million for a new sewage treatment plant south of the Wakarusa River. The plant is designed partly to provide the community the ability to accommodate more growth in coming decades, but also is needed to take pressure off the city’s current treatment plant during wet weather events. The city’s current plant is drawing scrutiny from the Environmental Protection Agency on how it functions during heavy rains.

If the rates are approved, the city would spend about $6.3 million this year to begin preliminary work on the project. The plant would be functional in 2018.

• $19.3 million to make improvements to the city’s two water treatment plants designed to help control occasional taste and odor problems. The city, however, doesn’t yet have a clear plan on what equipment will need to be added. The city is set to hire an engineering firm to create a set of options.

• $4.7 million to add a new water intake to the city’s Kaw Water Treatment plant. The city’s oldest water treatment plant has had one intake in the river fail, and the one remaining intake for the plant has experienced problems caused by Kansas River sand in the past.

• $7.8 million to extend a water main across the Kansas River to North Lawrence. Currently, North Lawrence only has one main pipe supplying treated water to the area. This project would provide a second source of water to the area.

• $12.6 million to replace aging water lines in the city.

• $13.4 million to improve existing sewer lines so they don’t take on so much water when it rains.

• $3.9 million to replace the aging water tanks near the top of Mount Oread. The tanks are just north of the Adams Alumni Center, and Wagner said the university does have an interest in future development of the property. Wagner said the city will study whether the city and KU could make a land swap that would allow the tanks to be built elsewhere, although he said that may not be feasible from an engineering standpoint.

City commissioners are scheduled to discuss the rate increase and related utility projects at 6:35 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall.


1yardstare 5 years, 2 months ago

Mr Corliss, perfect timing, right after you agreed to give Fritzel unlimited water for the next 30 years you jamb a price increase on the rest of us. Tell us how much the city estimates Fritzel will use over the next 30 years. Be sure and meter it so we all know what you gave away.

Lawrence needs a new city manager this one needs to go

workinghard 5 years, 2 months ago

When in the heck did free water enter the deal? No taxes and free water, is his sewer free too. He needs to build his own sewer treatment plant. Bet he is laughing his head off over the one he put over on Lawrence taxpayers.

George_Braziller 5 years, 2 months ago

The City Commission should have seized the opportunity to get some new blood and a fresh perspective in the City Manager position after Wildgen was fired. Candidates from all over the nation applied but instead they hired Corliss, who is a clone of Wildgen, who was a clone of Watson. Needed to maintain the "good old boy" system.

patkindle 5 years, 2 months ago

more money for the sewers more money for usd497 more money for the rec center hey, its for the kids, and just money down the drain

Armstrong 5 years, 2 months ago

It gets better.

Please dont take this word for word as this subject took place some time ago. Lawrence as a water provider to a few smaller water districts had been putting the screws to their "customers " so tightly that the customer base started a revolt and decided to obtain water elsewhere after numerous requests to readdress rates on the current contract - the answer was always no.

Because several of the smaller water districts redsidents threatened lynching of city officials if nothing was done about the water rates the districts banded together and discovered how badly Lawrence was putting it to them after a feasibility study to pipe water in from the old Sunflower Ammo Plan. Needless to say the figures were significant enough to have the Lawrence water dept "reconsider" the rates currently charged in an effort to keep the business. This my friends is your city working hard for you.

Cant_have_it_both_ways 5 years, 2 months ago

Part of this increase in user fees has to have something to do with the recycling plan and the new trash trucks. It is hard for me to believe that we have not been the victim or a misdirection campaign. When the city is getting smaller or not really growing well....

Currahee 5 years, 2 months ago

Just do it. Who cares what anyone else thinks. You're going to increase it anyway in a few months. Just do it now ...

jhawk1998 5 years, 2 months ago

thanks for the kick in the teeth. is it too late to go back and revisit this rock chalk sports park vote? no relief for taxpayers in this town. really thinking about moving from this berg. no gratitude to those footing the bill for the commissioner's pet projects

Georgine McHenry 5 years, 2 months ago

More politics from city hall. Gotta think that if you are a "SOMEBODY" in Lawrence, your clothing is lined with dollar bills...

avarom 5 years, 2 months ago

Dont get your bisquits in a twist.....your electrical is next....

bearded_gnome 5 years, 2 months ago

But the improvements will require a different mindset on water and sewer rates for the future. Since 2008, the water and sewer bill of an average residential user has increased about 2.5 percent per year, according to data from the city. The rate plan currently being proposed calls for annual increases that average about 5.7 percent per year between now and 2017.

---just say no!

for those interesed, supposedly there's some kinda pogram that offers a discount on some of this bill forthose on fixed incomes/low income. they don't publicize this much.

if this passes, maybe we need to look for creative forms of civil disobedience to protest?

Richard Heckler 5 years, 2 months ago

"• About $63 million for a new sewage treatment plant south of the Wakarusa River." This is Pork barrel for the banking/real estate/building industries....

Sand problems..... stop the dredging.

About 125 million total.

Certainly Lawrence can live without $63 million of this project. SAY NO

That 7.8 million for a new water main to NOrth Lawrence might cause the citizens more pain than pleasure when developers take over North Lawrence and begin increasing taxes. SAY NO unless North Lawrence says yes.

BringBackMark 5 years, 2 months ago

One more step to becoming a great place to retire....

smileydog 5 years, 2 months ago

This will help pay for the $2 million in trash cans everyone had to get, and the future recycle scam, and of course the so-called "adjustment" fee (late fee) the City was bilking from its citizens, until they got caught.

skinny 5 years, 2 months ago

Time for a change in City Government. For some reason this current group of people think money grows on trees!!!!

usesomesense 5 years, 2 months ago

Historically when they say 'average' they seem to mean someone living in a studio apartment. The stormwater utility fee of over 10 years ago was to be $1 per month for an average household, yet my small townhome at the time was $5 per month - and my small business was many times that. All to cover the cost of maintaining a system that should was to be funded with existing sewer and sanitation fees that didn't go toward maintaining the stormwater system as was intended when those fees were initiated.

The city always states a low 'average' cost in these articles to the public will sleep through them. By the time it shows up on their bills (for a substantially higher amount) it's way too late to do anything about it.

The city should send out a letter with it's billing stating EXACTLY how much increase consumers will see on their bill before this is approved so they can be accurately informed.

jesse499 5 years, 2 months ago

Sure wish I could get a 5.7% increase for 1 year let alone every year would be nice!!!!!

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 2 months ago

Yet another subsidy for the mindless growth industries.

sekhet 5 years, 2 months ago

doesn't Lawrence realize how this will affect those that work minimum wage receive fixed income and low income and college students they are already hurting how can they afford the increase when they are already living paycheck to paycheck.. people will be forced to move to places they can afford so will Lawrence raise the rates again to make up for those losses.also more rentals will be on the market who is going to fill these rentals along with all the other rentals that sit empty.. I agree that city council is money hungry and not really caring about the citizens especially in this economy and i agree with those that say the sport complex should have went to vote. and the only programs that i know are available are the budget plans and those are a joke. the economy sucks right now and Lawrence city council is raising rates nice way to treat people kick them when they are already down

JustWonderingAgain 5 years, 2 months ago

This is overwhelming, I pay water and sewer and I look at my bill and I use about $10.39 on average in water a month and my bill is $49-50 bucks a month, 6% of that will be $2.95 so it will increase to over $50 bucks! Just mind blowing, downsize the administration! That goes along with the School District too, they just agree with the lead anyways so they can keep there job.

think_about_it 5 years, 2 months ago

You Lawrence lefties crack me up. Never met a tax increase that you didn't love right up until the time that it affects you. Then it's all bloated big government and how can I afford this. Guess what, water and sewer is an essential service. Things like mT buses and gold plated libraries are not.

Here's the good news libs... the rich guys on the west side of town will get the increase too. That should make you feel better about it.

avarom 5 years, 2 months ago

How do you think they are paying for the newly decorated lavish Kansas State House.......the money has to come from's probably way over budget in its better that it comes from an area where you have no control.........Seems like you all bought into that drought story........And the bridge to sell ya just keeps getting bigger.......Yep.....Folks Welcome to Kansas!!

workinghard 5 years, 2 months ago

I really, really would like to see the number of water accounts that are turned off every month for nonpayment of the bill. I know of households with children that have gone without water for months because they didn't have the money to get it turned back on. How about looking into it for us Chad?

avarom 5 years, 2 months ago

They haven't started on the electrical....when you all get the "Smart Meter" and they PGE company or whatever company that services your area........You all be "Shocked" when they can zone in on your Ohms.....and charge extra for over use....and then....they come up with the "Go Green" start charging 10 cents a bag at the stores, to make you bring your own......from the plastic and've recycled for the scavenger company.......... so start saving those bags people.........if we can still afford groceries....

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