Kearney water, sewer rates increase 5%

Water and sewer customers in the city of Kearney will see an increase in their bill as aldermen approved a rate increase of 5% for both water and sewer. The rates were part of the fiscal year 2020 budget.

KEARNEY — Water and sewer customers in the city of Kearney will see an increase in their bill as aldermen approved a rate increase of 5% for both water and sewer. The rates were part of the fiscal year 2020 budget, which took effect this spring.

The rate increases are part of the incremental increase plan to raise water and sewer rates each year for five years to help offset costs of millions of needed infrastructure updates. The plan was approved in 2017.

“These amounts are less than that recommended by Larkin Lamp Rynearson in their 2017 rate study evaluating current and future operating expenses and needed capital improvements identified over the next five years,” said City Administrator Jim Eldridge. “However, we believe the increase adequately addresses the funding needs identified and approved within the FY2020 budget.”

Greg Kendall and Colin Stalter of Larkin Lamp Rynearson, the city’s contracted engineering firm, presented a rate study to aldermen and city staff in June of 2017.

The study states the city needs an additional $750,000 annually for the next five years to pay for capital improvements such as the headworks improvements that were made to remove grit from water, aeration basin upgrades and paying for the West Creek sewer interceptor. This is the sewer line for much of the west side of the city, running from 19th Street under Interstate 35 and including the subdivisions of Cottonwood and Hills of Westwood.

Projected costs for needed water work over the course of the next five years totals more than $2 million, the firm estimates. Needed sewer improvements in 2018 totaled more than $389,000 with five-year costs for needed improvements totaling more than $12.6 million.

During a May 6 public hearing on the rate increases at City Hall, no member of the public spoke against the increases and no aldermanic discussion took place before approval.

“It was an anticipated increase so no discussion was needed,” Alderman Gerri Spencer said.

A complete fee schedule for water and sewer rates can be found on the city’s website at http://www.ci.kearney.mo.us.

Managing Editor Amanda Lubinski can be reached at amanda.lubinski@mycouriertribune.com or 903-6001.

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