No Water Rate Hike, Yet, As City Considers Options For New Treatment Facility

Nov 20, 2018

Water and sewer rates for Wichita residents are staying where they are — for now.

Wichita City Council members voted 5-2 Tuesday to delay a decision on a rate increase of about 7.7 percent — 8.5 percent for water, and 6.5 percent for sewer — to help pay for a new water treatment facility near 21st and Zoo Boulevard. The hike, to take effect in 2019, would amount to about $72 more per year in water and sewer costs for a mid-use customer, and would generate an expected $12 million in additional revenue.

Mayor Jeff Longwell says he wants more project details from the two developers competing for the project, the local Wichita Water Partners and the Dallas-based Jacobs Engineering. Longwell said the council should choose whichever proposal has the least impact on ratepayers.

"There’s a wide swing on what this plant could look like in terms of the cost, and the cost to operate, but the cost to build itself could be nearly [a] $100 million difference," he said. "So when we say price doesn’t matter, it does matter."

The two potential developers will have to submit their plans in a "design contest" that city officials still need to set the terms for.

Vice Mayor Bryan Frye and Council Member Cindy Claycomb both voted against the measure.

The city is facing an October 2019 deadline to apply for a multi-million dollar federal loan to pay for the new treatment facility.

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