GREG LOWER

Putting water, sewer and garbage utilities in the black may be enough for the Chanute city commission to pass a budget without a mil levy increase.

At a work session Tuesday evening, three commissioners gave a consensus to put a $58 million total budget in front of the governing body Monday for approval to set a public hearing.

The proposed general fund budget is $8.7 million.

“Every department is lean and mean,” Interim City Manager Todd Newman said at the work session.

The proposal Tuesday evening was for monthly increases in rates: $4 in water rates; $5.50 in refuse; and 50 cents in sewer. The three utilities have not had an increase in about five years and have been operating at a loss year to year.

The increase would put all utilities at a break-even point.

“This is just catching us up,” Commissioner Sam Budreau said. 

The increase would put the average residential customer bill at $163.

Commissioner Phil Chaney said Chanute’s rates would still be the cheapest in the region.

Finance Director Cory Kepley said when the new sewer plant is built, operating costs will decrease.

After discussion of the utility rates and any changes to the general fund, the commissioners discussed the fiber optic broadband utility.

Newman said the goal is to have 225 homes connected, which would pay off the current construction in three years and seven months.

The project is already past the break-even point of 164 homes between the two neighborhoods that have been constructed so far. The city anticipates revenue of $512,000 and expenses of $345,000, creating an anticipated income of $167,000 per year.

The city wants to see a slow growth of 15 homes added per year. Since July 4, the city has already added six customer homes.

Also discussed were funding options to finance five pieces of equipment in the worst shape, including a front-end loader, trash truck, two dump trucks and a vacuum truck.

 

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