Archive for Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Water solution not likely before fall

August 11, 2004

As the city continues its quest for water, two options came to the council this week.

One was a repeated proposal from Mike Breuer, president of Basehor's Suburban Water. The other was a draft of a proposed 20-year contract with the Kansas City, Kansas, Board of Public Utilities.

In an interview on Tuesday, City Administrator Shane Krull said the city's engineer and attorney are reviewing the BPU's contract draft.

It's not likely that the BPU contract will be voted on by council members at the Aug. 23 council meeting, Krull said.

At the July 26 council meeting, Krull urged council members to proceed toward an agreement with BPU. This plan would entail the city of Tonganoxie constructing a water line from the BPU hookup near Basehor and running it to Tonganoxie. The estimated cost would be $2.3 million, Krull said. And when the cost of financing is included in a 20-year note, that total price rises to about $3.7 million.

Krull noted that according to the BPU contract draft, BPU's cost of water, which includes a 7.9 percent payment in lieu of taxes, would total $1.87 for every 748 gallons of water.

It's likely the matter could come to a vote by this fall, Krull said. But he added, he's not sure which way the council will lean.

"They've expressed concerns with the positive attributes of all the various plans we've considered," Krull said. "Ultimately, they need to assess the facts and make the decision that they felt is best for the community."

Local ties

For the past two years, Breuer has been in contact with the city in hopes that Suburban would become the city's main water provider.

Suburban, which was founded 18 years ago by Mike Breuer's father, Ray Breuer, currently supplies water to 1,100 homes in southern Leavenworth County, as well as to Rural Water District No. 10, southeast of Tonganoxie.

In order to expand its business, Suburban is in the final stages of laying a 10.2-mile, 12-inch water line from the BPU hookup southwest of Basehor. The line runs along Evans Road and will travel south on Rogers Road to Kansas Avenue and then west to a hilltop overlooking U.S. Highway 24-40 where Suburban will install a 1.5 million-gallon water storage tank.

At the corner of Evans Road and County Road 25, Suburban's pipeline also runs north to Sandusky, and then west. Suburban's line stops about 1,500 feet east of the Tonganoxie water plant.

The Breuers believe the best solution for the city's water quantity problems would be for Tonganoxie to hook onto their system.

But the city has expressed an interest in building its own 10-mile water line and hooking into BPU without the assistance of a middleman, which in this case would be Suburban.

Mike Breuer told council members Monday night that although it might seem more expensive at first to go with Suburban, after 40 years -- whether the city went with Suburban or with its own pipeline to BPU -- the cost would be about the same.

And, Breuer said Suburban is currently talking with the Leavenworth water district, which he said, could enhance the service Suburban is able to provide.

And Breuer noted, if the city signed on with Suburban, the delivery cost would be $2.47 for every 1,000 gallons of water. Otherwise -- if it's merely an emergency connection -- the rate would be $2.87 for 1,000 gallons, Breuer said.

No connection fee?

Breuer even told council members it's possible that Suburban might be willing to do away with charging the city the proposed $800,000 connection fee.

"I think it's a good starting point," Breuer said. "... Maybe we could get it to where it feels good for everybody about what they're getting involved with."

In a later interview, Breuer noted that it's not necessary for a town to have its own water department.

"What I want to compare it to is where is the city buying its water," Breuer said. "They need their water at the city limits -- they don't need it up at 142nd and State Avenue."

Commenting has been disabled for this item.