Lawrence City Commission to consider increases to trash collection rates, finalization of water and sewer increase

photo by: Mike Yoder

Lawrence City Hall, 6 E. Sixth St., Thursday, July 7, 2016

City leaders will soon consider approving increases to city solid waste collection rates, including a 3% increase for residential customers, a 6% increase for dumpster rentals, and a 10% increase for downtown trash collection.

As part of its meeting Tuesday, the Lawrence City Commission will consider adopting the proposed rate increases for residential, downtown and multiple commercial and rental services for trash and recycling pick up. Commissioners have previously discussed rate increases for water and sewer service, and are also scheduled to finalize a 8.75% rate increase as part of Tuesday’s meeting.

The city worked with the consulting firm Burns & McDonnell to develop the new solid waste rates, which take into account performance indicators related to the city’s strategic plan as well as the costs for labor agreements, projects and equipment replacements in 2023, according to a city staff memo to the commission. Other factors considered included the city’s recently completed 5-year agreement with the Hamm landfill and recycling facility and “significant economic pressures increasing fuel, equipment and supply costs.”

The city has two residential solid waste rates, one for single-family residential — the city collects trash, recycling and yard waste in those areas — and another for multi-dwelling residential, or apartments and other areas that use dumpsters rather than individual trash and recycling carts. There are also separate rates for downtown collection, which occurs more frequently than residential collection, and for the city’s various commercial services, such as dumpster rentals. The proposed rate increases and the monthly payment increase is as follows:

•Single-dwelling residential: 3% increase or $0.60 per month

•Multi-dwelling residential: 3% increase or $0.48 per month

•Roll-Off (dumpster): 6% increase or $5.68 per month

•Commercial front and rear-load (dumpsters): 5% increase

•Commercial cart: 5% increase or $1.37 per month

•Downtown: 10% increase or $14.63 per month

•School recycling: 3% increase or $1.20 per month

The city’s three utility funds are enterprise funds, meaning the rates charged to residents are set to cover the personnel, maintenance and other costs of operating the utility service. The proposed solid waste rate increases are in addition to other utility rate increases. In September, city leaders indicated that they were supportive of a water and sewer rate proposal that would increase rates by 8.75% next year, 10.25% in 2024 and 11% in 2025, and ordinances increasing those rates are included in the commission’s consent agenda for Tuesday. The presentation notes that proposed rates for storm water will be presented for consideration on Dec. 13.

In other business, the commission:

•Will hold a public hearing for the economic incentives requested for an approximately 80-acre mixed-use development on the University of Kansas’ West Campus. The project, which is called The Crossing and includes research, residential and retail facilities, is seeking two economic development incentives: Tax Increment Financing (TIF) and a Community Improvement District (CID). West District Improvement Company, which is owned by the KU Endowment Association, is proposing the project and requesting 95% of TIF-eligible property taxes and levy of an additional 1.5% sales tax CID. More specifically, the property owner will pay for all infrastructure and other eligible costs and get reimbursed over time by 95% of the TIF-eligible property tax revenues generated on the added property value (also known as “pay as you go”), according to a city staff memo. By state statute, only certain project expenses are eligible for reimbursement, including land acquisition, site work and “horizontal infrastructure,” and parking and landscaping. The CID would impose an additional sales tax of 1.5% on top of the local sales tax rate to help reimburse eligible expenses.

•Will consider an amendment to the city’s land development code to allow more bars in the downtown under certain conditions. As the Journal-World reported in August, John Brown’s Underground, a speakeasy-style bar at 7 E. Seventh St. that opened in 2014, proposed a change to city code after failing to adhere to the city’s ordinance, which dates back to 1994. With the goal of preserving the retail character of downtown and preventing it from becoming a bar district, the ordinance requires new downtown drinking establishment licensees to make no more than 45% of their sales from alcohol. John Brown’s, which has failed to meet the requirement on multiple occasions, proposed an amendment that would give the city the “discretion” to issue a non-transferable special use permit that would allow up to 90% of sales to come from alcohol as long as the business met certain requirements.

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