Commission raises utilities

GREG LOWER

Chanute city commissioners approved a 2021 budget Monday evening for very nearly the same mil levy on very nearly the same valuation as 2020.

The $58 million budget for next year levies 41.039 mils on city properties valued at $62.9 million. This year’s budget levied 41.038 mils. The 2019 budget of $63.9 million levied 40.823 mils on a $61.8 million city valuation. The property tax contributes $2.5 million to the city budget.

Commissioner Sam Budreau said the past budgets have been dumping money into old pieces of equipment, which the commission addressed Monday with approval for five new vehicles. Commissioners also increased rates for water, sewer and refuse utilities, and landfill tonnage.

The utility rate increases are intended to put those departments in the black by generating enough income to cover their expenses. The increase in water rates range from an average of $4.09 per month for residential customers inside the city limits to $55.02 per month average for industries inside the city. By percentage, the change is 17 percent for residential city users to 80 percent for commercial businesses outside the city.

Trash rates increase about $5.54 or 37 percent for city residential, city seniors, city commercial and city industrial customers. Residential and commercial customers outside the city limits will increase 45 percent.

Sewer rates will increase by 50 cents across the board to a projected base rate of $35.14.

Commissioner Phil Chaney said the city has not changed rates for some time. He said water rates haven’t changed in way too long and still seem too cheap, but the trash rate seems like a healthy jump.

The tonnage rate for the landfill increases to $50 per ton from $40 per ton. Commissioner Kevin Berthot said the change comes because out-of-city and out-of-county customers are using the landfill.

Interim City Manager Todd Newman said the five vehicles approved for replacement Monday evening are the pieces of equipment that are most expensive for repairs.

“They’re more expensive in the shop,” he said.

Commissioners approved a trash truck from Downing Sales and Service in Phillipsburg, Mo., for $93,771, a front-end loader from Foley Equipment for $177,213, and the lease of a sewer vacuum truck for $380,000 from RED Municipal and Industrial Equipment in Kansas City. Newman said these vehicles cost $30,000 to $50,000 a year for maintenance.

The sewer truck replaces one that is currently in the repair shop. The front-end loader will go to the street department to replace one that will rotate to the landfill and replace one that had a wheel fall off.

Commissioners also approved the purchase of two dump trucks, including one that will be used for snow plowing, for $81,200 each plus $26,900 for the snow plow equipment from Merle Kelly Ford.

“It’s expensive to run a city, hum?” Chaney commented.

Commissioners also discussed doing mill and overlay work on the northbound lane of Santa Fe Avenue from 20th to 35th Street. They made a consensus to get price quotes, and the project will probably be done next spring.

Commissioners passed resolutions to find properties at 722 S. Grant, owned by the Campbell Family Trust; 317 S. Wilson, owned by Don Booe; 617 N. Grant, owned by Lloyd Coble; 517 N. Santa Fe, owned by John Buckner IV; 201 S. Ashby, owned by Robert Smith; and 507 N. Evergreen, owned by Randall and Maria Mata, in violation of city code.

Jim Whaley of the Chanute Historical Society met with the commission to discuss putting a sign on the northwest corner of the Research Center. Commissioners told him to meet with the city manager and assistant manager about the project.

Whaley also reported subjects have been selected for two plaques to be added to the Heroes Way project, including three women who will be recognized on one plaque as poets. Three stones are waiting to be delivered and the path has nine stones with plaques in place.

Whaley said the project needs more nominations for subjects. Nomination forms are available from the selection committee members, at the city manager’s office and at the public library.

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