ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
On the heels of the official opening of its upgraded water-treatment plant a week earlier, the Hillsboro City Council approved at its Sept. 5 meeting an increase in water rates to help pay for the $3.5 million project.
The new rates schedule will treat residential and commercial customers the same. Formerly, commercial customers were charged more than residential customers.
The new rates will take effect with the Nov. 1 billing.
Prior to the change, residential customers were charged a minimum $15 for the first 2,000 gallons used and $3.13 for every additional 1,000 gallons used.
With the new rate, they will pay a minimum $20 for the first 1,000 gallons and $3.28 for every additional 1,000 gallons.
That means a household that uses 3,000 gallons a month will see its water bill increase from $18.13 to $26.56-a 461⁄2 percent jump.
Meanwhile, the rate for commercial customer was $21 for the first 2,000 gallons and $3.13 for every additional 1,000 gallons.
—ow, commercial customers also will pay $20 for the first 1,000 gallons and $3.28 for every additional 1,000 gallons.
As a result, a business that uses 5,000 gallons a month would have paid $30.39 under the former rate. It will now pay $33.12-a 9 percent increase.
“I don’t want to pay more than I have to either,” said Councilor Matt Hiebert in recommending the increase. “But for the quality of water we have now, that’s a small price to pay.”
City Administrator Steve Garrett said water rates in Hillsboro have not been increased in eight years.
The council accepted a proposal from its auditing firm, Swindoll, Janzen, Hawk & Lloyd of McPherson, to clarify how “public moneys” can be expended through three local funds established by ordinance: the Industrial Fund, the Convention and Tourism Fund, and the Recreation Fund.
The firm will charge $2,500 for the additional service.
Mayor Delores Dalke said the examination is important to ensure the city is handling funds appropriately that have been designated by city ordinance.
Garrett said the issue has since become a popular topic on a list serve for city administrators.
“We may be on the vanguard of a movement,” he said.
The council approved one contract and deferred a decision on another as part of the application process for a Community Building Development Grant to help pay the cost of replacing water lines along Birch and Cedar streets.
The council approved a contract naming Reiss & Goodness Engineers as the consulting engineer on the project, but put off naming a grant administrator until more information was gathered on Reese & Novelly P.A. of Wamego, who submitted a low bid of $11,000.
A higher bid of $13,250 was submitted by South Central Kansas Economic Development District Inc., with whom the city has worked on previous CDBG-funded projects.
Rose Mary Saunders of Reiss & Goodness said she had received income surveys from 62 of the 72 households in the targeted area.
To receive CDBG funding, 51 percent of households need to be classified as low to moderate income. The survey indicated 62.43 percent are so classified.
In other matters, the council:
— accepted a low bid of $16,400 from Middlecreek Corp. of Peabody to demolish the old swimming pool in Memorial Park. A second bid, from G&G Dozer of Caney, came in at $60,000.
— reviewed the proposed plan by the Kansas Department of Transportation that would add directional signage about Hillsboro along Interstate 135 at the U.S. Highway 56 exit near McPherson.
The proposal would also replace signs regarding the town and its key attractions as motorists near U.S. 56 and Ash Street.
— approved an invoice submitted by Hillsboro Community Medical Center for work completed at the facility. The invoice was for $10,500 from Jantz Construction Inc. of Tampa for renovation work done to the interior of the long-term care unit.
It will paid with funds through the city’s Public Building Commission.
— approved the purchase of a new network server and related equipment and software for HCMC at cost of $24,736. Heartland Technology Systems is the vendor.
— heard Saunders say that the airport improvement project should begin Sept. 11.