Glenwood Estates residents must pay full connection fee
The Basehor City Council on Monday opted not to give residents of Sewer District No. 3 a break on their sewer connection fees, on a split vote.
The council voted, 3-2, against an addendum that would have allowed Sewer District No. 3 residents — the bulk of whom live in the Glenwood Estates subdivision — to connect to the city's sewer line at the amount charged within the city limits, $3,450. Instead, the residents will pay the out-of-city rate of $4,425.
Members Iris Dysart, Jim Washington and Bill Moyer voted against the addendum.
The vote came after two Basehor residents earlier in the meeting criticized the possible reduction of the connection fees at a time when the city’s monthly sewer fees are about to jump by 40 percent, largely to help pay debt on the city's wastewater treatment plant.
Dysart said it should have been the responsibility of Leavenworth County, not the city, to alleviate the financial stress on the Glenwood Estates residents. The county, as the authority overseeing the sewer district, should have planned for the expiration of the subdivision’s permit to use its sewer lagoon and helped the residents connect to another sewer line, Dysart said.
“It's making us look like we are the bad people in this situation, and we are not,” Dysart said. “It's Leavenworth County.”
Mayor Terry Hill said the city would probably annex Glenwood Estates during the next several years, and the idea behind the addendum was to allow residents to connect at an in-city rate because they would be in the city soon.
Washington, though, said that the issue had already been settled in 2010 when the council offered annexation to Glenwood Estates residents in return for a lower fee, but few residents responded.
Council member Dennis Mertz, who met with Sewer District No. 3 residents to discuss how to mitigate the cost of the sewer connection, asked the other members to consider that the residents were placed in a tough situation through no fault of their own.
“Put yourself in their place,” Mertz said. “They’re not trying to connect to us. They didn't want to connect to us. They were told by the state they had to connect to us.”
Member David Breuer noted that the residents would have to pay 1.5 times the city’s monthly sewer rate in addition to the initial connection fee. The connection of the roughly 100 lots in the sewer district would already net hundreds of thousands of dollars for the city's sewer fund, he said, and a reduction in the connection fee would not change that.
“There's a hundred new connections, and they’re on forever,” Breuer said.
During the public comment portion of the meeting, Basehor resident Elaine Bundy said that if the city’s sewer funds were so low that it was increasing monthly rates by 40 percent, it should not give up roughly $100,000 to reduce connection fees for Sewer District No. 3. She said the city should consider its current residents' needs first.
“Did you even think about the impact on the people of Basehor?” Bundy said. “People are losing their jobs. Companies are cutting back on hours. My job got cut back to 30 hours a week.”
Glenwood Estates residents were forced to connect to the Basehor sewer system in 2009 after their Kansas Department of Health and Environment permit to use their sewer lagoons expired, and KDHE ordered the lagoons decommissioned.