The Goessel City Council discussed water issue, including a customer rate increase, during its Nov. 21 meeting.
Public Works Director Karen Dalke told the council that anyone who uses a water sprinkler hooked to city water is required to have a back-flow preventer that needs to be inspected every year, and the inspection needs to be on file with the city.
The inspection is mandated by the state and is meant to protect the city’s water supply. Dalke said there is a licensed back-flow inspector in Hillsboro.
Continuing the discussion, the council listened to City Clerk Jennifer Whitehead explain water rates. She said the city will apply for a water grant next year. In order to be considered for a grant, however, the city’s water rates will have to increase; the current rates are too low.
The council then reviewed, and ultimately approved, a ordinance that would raise the water rates slightly.
Ordinance 270 states: “Monthly charges for water use by residents of the City of Goessel shall be based upon the size of water meter.” The ordinance details the charges.
The minimum charge for a 3/4-inch water meter will be $11 a month for up to 1,000 gallons of water, then $3.58 for each additional 1,000 gallons up to 5,000 gallons. The charge will be $3.91 for every 1,000 gallons above 5,000 gallons.
The minimum charge for a one-inch meter will be $28.76 per month, up to 5,000 gallons. The user will be charged $3.58 for each additional 1,000 gallons, up to 7,500 gallons, then $3.91 for every 1,000 gallon amount.
The minimum charge for 11⁄2- and 2-inch meters will be $45.27 per month, up to 7,500 gallons of water. The charge will be $3.58 for each additional 1,000 gallons, up to a total of 15,000 gallons. The charge will be $3.91 per 1,000 gallons after that.
The minimum charge for a 4-inch water meter will be $71.13 per month, up to 20,000 gallons of water. The rate will be $3.58 for each additional 1,000 gallons up to 40,000 gallons. After that amount, the charge will be $3.91 for each additional 1,000 gallons.
These rates represent an increase of only 66 cents on the minimum charge and 63 cents on additional amounts.
Users who are not residents of the city of Goessel will be charged twice the amount assessed to residents in the city limits.
In addition to the water-use charges, a surcharge will be added to the monthly water bill “for the purpose of servicing and improvements to the municipal water system and to provide for maintenance and upkeep….” Surcharges will be $8, $12 or $16 per month, depending on the size of the water meter.
The new rates will be effective beginning with the first bill in 2017. The ordinance is an effort to minimize the increase for consumers. However, these amounts will not be sufficient to qualify for a grant, and an additional increase will be necessary in 2018.
Wastewater charges are also addressed in the ordinance. The ordinance describes the formula for calculating the fee, with a minimum fee of $11.50, plus a $2 fee per month for sewer maintenance examination, and additional costs depending on usage.
The ordinance also addresses toxic pollutants: “Any user (who) discharges any toxic pollutants (that) cause an increase in the cost of managing the effluent or the sludge from the city’s treatment works…shall pay for such increased costs.”
Telephone and Internet
Turning its attention to another matter, the council listened to representatives of Moundridge Telephone Co. and IdeaTek.
Harry Wheelborg of Moundridge Telephone Co. said his company serves 270 square miles. He said they have started with underground lines in Goessel.
“Everything will be underground,” he said. “It will be first-class service.”
Troy Smith, also of Moundridge Telephone Co. said, “We are obligated to serve the entire community.”
He said they cannot be selective. Wheelborg said it costs “tremendously” more to serve customers out of town.
“We appreciate your business,” Smith said.
Daniel Friesen of IdeaTek said his company provides phone and Internet service, and they would like to serve the city of Goessel. IdeaTek is based in Buhler.
Friesen said some of its cable is installed overhead, and some is underground.
Asked about television service, Friesen said the company does not provide television service, but it is available over the Internet.
At this point, IdeaTek would serve only the city of Goessel and not the surrounding area, although Friesen added, “We’ve got plans to get out into the rural areas.”
Users of IdeaTek would deal directly with them, just like they do with Moundridge Telephone Co. However, IdeaTek needs an agreement with the city for using the city’s right-of-ways. The company wanted that agreement within four days.
The council felt it would be good to provide residents with an additional option for Internet service; council members said competition would be a benefit. However, they expressed a need for more time to review the details and check with the city attorney.
Mayor Dave Schrag said, “We need to check everything.”
The council decided to hold a special meeting early in December to discuss the matter further and work out details of a right-of-way agreement.
In other business, the council:
• heard the 2017 trash rate will be $11.70 for a 65-gallon trash cart and$12.20 for a 95-gallon cart. The fees are set by Waste Connections.
• heard that Dalke had “13 pages of locates in the last two days.” The gas company was doing some work in town.
• heard that Whitehead attended the annual clerk institute the previous week and will graduate next year.
• heard that a representative of the Kansas Rural Water Association had come.
Whitehead said, “We were due to file an extension with the state” about the water right.
• heard that KRWA is checking on the baseball diamond well.
• heard from Dalke and Councilor Duane Adrian about issues with the city’s sewer machine.
• heard about a door blowing open on a vacant house. The door has now been secured.
• heard that someone had broken into some cars.
• received updated pages for the code book, which is now in effect.