County proposal would stick sewer district with bill of $1.93 million
7 p.m., Oct. 17, Basehor City Hall: Basehor City Council meeting; council to consider reduced Sewer District 3 connection fees
6:30 p.m., Oct. 20, Glenwood Ridge Elementary School: Leavenworth County informational meeting for sewer district residents; public comment welcomed
10 a.m., Oct. 24, Leavenworth County Courthouse: Final public hearing to consider assessments for sewer district residents
Residents of Leavenworth County Sewer District No. 3 got a glimpse Monday of just how much they may have to pay during the next 20 years for their connection to the city of Basehor's sewer system.
According to a proposal that county commissioners approved to publish Monday, each property owner in the sewer district south of Basehor would pay about $19,700 over 20 years, via assessments on their property taxes: roughly $1,460 each of the next two years and $930 each year afterward.
Those numbers add up to a total bill of about $1.93 million for the project. But those figures could also change considerably over the next two weeks before Oct. 24, when the county must set a final apportionment formula after a public hearing.
County Attorney David Van Parys told the commissioners that date would be their ultimate deadline to determine how to divide up the cost of the project in time to place assessments on residents' 2012 taxes, which is necessary for the county to begin repaying a state loan. The commissioners’ vote Monday was just to publish a proposal before the public hearing to be held later, an action required by state statute, Van Parys said.
Commissioner John Flower said Monday that until that drop-dead date, he would continue to push for help for the sewer district residents from the three local governmental bodies involved: the county, the city of Basehor and the Basehor-Linwood School District.
“I'm not giving up yet,” Flower said.
The Basehor-Linwood school board still supports a plan to contribute $200,000 to the project, superintendent David Howard said Monday, though it has not yet made a legal agreement to do so. Basehor City Council members have discussed a plan to reduce residents' connection fees by about $1,000 each, which would reduce the total cost by about $95,600; the council meets again Monday, Oct. 17.
And the county, Flower said, is investigating the possibility of establishing a revitalization district to lay over the sewer district, a move that would allow the county to use general funds to forgive a $94,000 debt currently owed by the sewer district.
If each of those bodies agrees to contribute, they could reduce the cost of the project by nearly 30 percent. Factoring in interest on the county's debt to KDHE, the cost could decrease to about $1.37 million, or about $14,000 per property owner, resulting in an assessment of about $700 per year.
The commissioners could also decide on a different “fair and equitable” method of dividing the cost burden among property owners by the Oct. 24 deadline, Van Parys said.
The proposal approved by the commissioners Monday, 3-0, would divide the cost equally among the 98 pieces of property in the sewer district, including the two Basehor-Linwood schools in the district, Basehor-Linwood Middle School and Glenwood Ridge Elementary School.
Larry Van Fleet, a resident of the Glenwood Estates subdivision that comprises most of the sewer district, said at Monday's meeting that the proposed apportionment would put too much of the burden on the residents.
“I've told you repeatedly, over and over and over again: We don't have the money to pay for this thing, this monstrosity you guys have created,” Van Fleet said.
Making the matter worse, he said, was that the residents were paying for a new sewer line that is built to support future growth in the area, shouldering a burden he said should fall on the future additional homes that connect to the system.
“That's just not my cross to bear,” Van Fleet said.
Van Parys said the commissioners could alter the assessment structure in future years to add any homes that connect to the system later on.
Before making a final decision on the assessments in a public hearing to be held 10 a.m. Oct. 24 in the Leavenworth County Courthouse, the county will have an informational meeting next week where sewer district residents can provide input. The meeting will be 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 20, at Glenwood Ridge Elementary School.