Higher Rates Promised if Columbia Sewer Bonds Increase Fails

4 years 1 month 2 weeks ago Friday, November 01 2013 Nov 1, 2013 Friday, November 01, 2013 5:52:00 PM CDT November 01, 2013 in News
By: Alyssa Caruso, KOMU 8 Reporter
loading

COLUMBIA - An election November 5 will determine whether the city will issue more than $32.3 million dollars in revenue bonds for improvements to the city-owned sewage system.

City officials call the improvements overdue. Erin Keys, an engineering supervisor for Columbia, said there are 675 miles of sewer lines in the city, 225 miles of which are more than 75 years old. Some are even more than 100 years old. Keys said current funding could not make substantial improvements to the old pipes.

"We're really only able to repair or replace a little over a mile to two miles each year and we have 675 miles, so that tells you it's going to take us 300 years to get through all of that," Keys said.

John Blattel, director of finance for Columbia, said that using revenue bonds is the best way to complete the sewer improvements because that approach would increase utility rates less than if the city could not use revenue bonds and the actual users paid as improvement were made.

"We want the citizens that are going to receive the benefits of this issue to be paying," Blattel said. "So if you do a sewer improvement, it's going to be useful for 20, 30, 40, or 50 years. So if you can spread that payment out, the citizens that actually use that service are actually paying for that service."

If voters approve the bonds, the average residential customer would see an average monthly utility rate increase of three dollars, which would be phased in over the next five years. Users would see monthly rate increases of $1.45 in 2015, $1.28 in 2017, and 27 cents in 2019.

If voters do not approve the bonds, the city says a 38 percent sewer rate increase in 2015 would be necessary in order to complete the same proposed projects. This would mean the average residential customer's rates would increase $9.18 per month that year.

"People flush the toilet and it goes away. It's not their problem. They drive down the street and as long as they get to where they're going they don't notice that they're using their infrastructure every day," Keys said. "It's not until there's a problem with them that people start the recognize that it's a pretty valuable asset we have that we need to take care of."

Keys said the majority of bond money would be used to line the old pipes in the city and repair the city's over 20,000 manholes where much of the grouting between the bricks is starting to fail. She said it's not a surprise that the pipes are not working correctly.

"A lot of these pipes were put in between the 1900s and 1960s. There are hundreds and hundreds of miles of pipe that are long past their serviceable life. Those are the pipes that we need to try to upgrade or replace," said Keys.

Resident Jill Lucht said she knows the problems much too well. In 2008 she moved into her home on Aldeah Avenue, which has pipes from the 1920s. There were two sewer backups in her basement that spring and despite purchasing a back flow preventer, her basement still floods with storm water during large rainfalls.

"The basic problem in this neighborhood is that the pipes are cracked and storm water enters the sewer system and that increases the pressure on the line so much that sewage will back up into your basement," said Lucht.

Lucht said almost everyone on her street has had sewer water in their basements at least once. She said she hopes the bonds are approved so that work can start to be done in the older neighborhoods of Columbia like hers.

Not everyone is in support of the revenue bonds. Bill Weitkemper worked for Columbia Public Works for more than 37 years. He said while sewer bonds will need to be passed eventually, there is work that needs to be done first.

Weitkemper said there should be a sewer cost of service study done to make sure everyone in Columbia is being charged the right rate. He also said city officials need to work with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and set the project's priorities, as well as include more public discussion.

"Until you know what you need to do, you can't budget the money to do it," Weitkemper said. "The Department of Natural Resources regulates the city on what the city has to do. We need to work with DNR prior to asking the citizens for more money."

Weitkemper said although he will vote against the bonds, he thinks it will pass.

More News

Grid
List
CAPE GIRARDEAU (AP) — A Cape Girardeau man will likely spend the rest of his life in prison for shooting... More >>
1 hour ago Sunday, December 17 2017 Dec 17, 2017 Sunday, December 17, 2017 8:00:30 PM CST December 17, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - Three years after picking up a disc for the first time, Cynthia Riccotti is thriving in her quest... More >>
3 hours ago Sunday, December 17 2017 Dec 17, 2017 Sunday, December 17, 2017 6:25:00 PM CST December 17, 2017 in News
TIPTON - A family is trying to recover after losing everything in a house fire, and with help from the... More >>
4 hours ago Sunday, December 17 2017 Dec 17, 2017 Sunday, December 17, 2017 5:20:00 PM CST December 17, 2017 in News
BOONE COUNTY - A boil advisory is in affect for Water Supply District No. 10 in Boone County. According... More >>
4 hours ago Sunday, December 17 2017 Dec 17, 2017 Sunday, December 17, 2017 5:18:00 PM CST December 17, 2017 in News
CAMDEN COUNTY - A Kansas City woman has been arrested in connection with a fatal car crash in Camden County... More >>
4 hours ago Sunday, December 17 2017 Dec 17, 2017 Sunday, December 17, 2017 4:48:00 PM CST December 17, 2017 in News
KANSAS CITY (AP) — Area educators are opening up the topic of teen suicide for discussion after seeing deaths rise... More >>
5 hours ago Sunday, December 17 2017 Dec 17, 2017 Sunday, December 17, 2017 4:07:38 PM CST December 17, 2017 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - The first ever "Christmas Countdown" Sunday is giving Jefferson City an opportunity for some last minute Christmas... More >>
12 hours ago Sunday, December 17 2017 Dec 17, 2017 Sunday, December 17, 2017 9:21:00 AM CST December 17, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA (AP) — Police say they have arrested a man charged in an August quadruple homicide that occurred in... More >>
22 hours ago Saturday, December 16 2017 Dec 16, 2017 Saturday, December 16, 2017 11:15:00 PM CST December 16, 2017 in News
NEW BLOOMFIELD - A two-vehicle car wreck Saturday left one dead and two others injured, according to the Missouri State... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, December 16 2017 Dec 16, 2017 Saturday, December 16, 2017 8:15:00 PM CST December 16, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - An event in Columbia today addressed the prevalence of gun violence and misuse of firearms by offering gift... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, December 16 2017 Dec 16, 2017 Saturday, December 16, 2017 8:04:00 PM CST December 16, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA – A six-year-old held a hot chocolate stand Saturday outside of a Hy-Vee in Jefferson City to help two... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, December 16 2017 Dec 16, 2017 Saturday, December 16, 2017 6:51:00 PM CST December 16, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - The Wyss Medical Foundation donated $2 million to the Missouri Orthapaedic Institute for the work of lead orthopaedic... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, December 16 2017 Dec 16, 2017 Saturday, December 16, 2017 5:05:00 PM CST December 16, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - On Friday, the Columbia Police Department inducted eight new recruits, the largest class of officers in years. ... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, December 16 2017 Dec 16, 2017 Saturday, December 16, 2017 4:03:00 PM CST December 16, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA – A new roundabout may be coming to Columbia on one intersection that may cause drivers trouble. The... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, December 16 2017 Dec 16, 2017 Saturday, December 16, 2017 3:55:00 PM CST December 16, 2017 in News
JACKSONVILLE - An estimated 400 people attended a wreath laying ceremony Saturday at the Jacksonville State Veterans Cemetery. It... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, December 16 2017 Dec 16, 2017 Saturday, December 16, 2017 3:31:00 PM CST December 16, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA – Graduation day is long awaited by many and Amy Kiso Bledsoe is no exception. Bledsoe was... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, December 16 2017 Dec 16, 2017 Saturday, December 16, 2017 2:47:00 PM CST December 16, 2017 in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — As Missouri struggles with the epidemic of opioid abuse, no place in the state has been... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, December 16 2017 Dec 16, 2017 Saturday, December 16, 2017 1:10:14 PM CST December 16, 2017 in News
BOONE COUNTY - A furnace malfunction caused a fire in a trailer home on Pratherville Road Saturday morning. Gale... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, December 16 2017 Dec 16, 2017 Saturday, December 16, 2017 12:05:48 PM CST December 16, 2017 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 45°
10pm 44°
11pm 43°
12am 43°
1am 43°

Select a station to view its upcoming schedule:

Coming Up Next

7:20p
Sunday Night Football
10:30p
KOMU 8 News @ 10
11:05p
Sports Extra with Chris Gervino
9:00p
KOMU 8 News @ Nine on The CW
9:30p
Family Guy
10:00p
Seinfeld

Tonight's Schedule

6:00p
Football Night in America
7:20p
Sunday Night Football
7:00p
The Christmas Bunny
9:00p
KOMU 8 News @ Nine on The CW
9:30p
Family Guy