February 7, 2016

Committee hears from rural water

Mark Taylor
Gardner’s BPU Exploratory Committee is several weeks into its mission of studying the pros and cons of a Board of Public Utilities that would manage the city’s water, wastewater and electric utilities.
The committee, which is chaired by Councilman Chris Morrow, was formed to study the BPU concept, determine whether it is a worthwhile concept and if so, make a recommendation to the city council.
Gardner runs its own water, wastewater and electric utilities.
During its Nov. 28 meeting, the committee heard a presentation on the operations of Rural Water 7 from that utility’s manager Alan Soetaert and board president Bill Gay.
Rural Water 7, which surrounds Gardner’s city limits, is governed by a nine-member board that is elected by the district’s 2,200 patrons.
Each board member is limited to one-three year term and then must sit out a year before serving again.
The district has two water supplies. Olathe provides about 30 percent of the district’s water and Hillsdale, about 70 percent.
Six employees maintain and oversee about 110 miles of pipe.
Rural Water 7 has eight interconnections with neighboring communities, including Gardner and Edgerton that allows each to provide water to the other in emergency situations.
Gay said the independent board is mostly void of politics and is focused specifically on the mission of running the utility.
“Everything we make goes back into the system,” he said. “And if we are out of money we have to get that out of the system, too.”
Councilwoman Kristy Harrison, who also serves on the committee, said it is sometimes awkward for the city council to manage utility rate increases in addition to the mill levy.
“It is overbearing,” she said. “I don’t think it (utility rates) gets the focus it needs,” she said.


  1. State of Affairs says:

    Hear Edgerton residents will be paying for the water/sewer set up for the intermodal. One of 2 options–$12 a month more or $174 a month more. Would hope that no one has to pay $174 a month more. “Hillsdale about 70 percent” of the district’s water supply. Hillsdale will be moved and made manmade to accommodate the intermodal. So, we will be drinking water from runoff of roof tops, sidewalks, driveways, etc. Hope we don’t have to pay high fees to be poisoned.

  2. State of affairs

    When your water source for municipal supply is a lake, you use water that is runoff from the sources you mentioned above and more. You are drinking runoff right now – before the intermodal is even built. So why are you saying that the intermodal will be the cause of you drinking runoff and paying fees to be poisoned? Move Hillsdale lake? Where can I get information on that – first I’ve heard…
    Your comments above show how little you understand about how you currently get your drinking water.

  3. State of Affairs says:

    Add the runoff from the trains and the trucks from the intermodal to the list. Where were you in 2006? It was in the original plan to move Hillsdale. Completely manmade, so no under current of fresh water supply to decrease the mix of pollution.

  4. State of Affairs says:

    But, don’t fear; your beloved intermodal will come to town. Even though the head oncology (cancer) doctor at the KU Med Center (University of Kansas Medical Center) stated that the Corp of Engineers did not research the impact of the intermodal on the environment fully.

  5. Judith Rogers says:

    If this Board of Public Utilities want to increase the franchise fees they pay to the city of Gardner to pay for city employee raises like the Electric Board was wanting to do, then they will not be serving me, an average citizen, in prudently overseeing the cost of utilities for the citizens. Any board, any “appointed” committee, etc. is only as good as their integrity, ethics and character are and whether they keep politics out of their operation or work. Those appointees better be vetted and vetted closely and monitored closely. Calls for the PEOPLE to do their jobs and they better have a decent person in office to do the picking and the appointing.

  6. State of affairs

    Hillsdale lake is already a man made reservoir. It is an Army Corp of Engineers flood control project. There is/was no plan to move Hillsdale – I have been here since the intermodal was proposed and attended meetings as I too was concerned about the project.
    Many of the roads and storm drains drain towards Bull Creek which is a tributary that drains into Hillsdale Lake.
    Why would you call it “my beloved intermodal”? I will not benefit from it one cent.
    Please stick to the facts.

  7. Judith Rogers says:

    You sure won’t benefit from he pollution, truck traffic and astronomical costs you and your descendents will pay from here on because of that intermodal……….the horror story is just beginning………….

  8. Judith Rogers says:

    Here is an article that tells you what happens when there is apathy of the people – the wrongdoers have a hey day!!! Glad to see these two judges holding some people accountable and responsible.


    Judge refuses to dismiss charges against ex-Bell council members
    Saying that being elected to the Bell City Council was ‘somewhat akin to winning the lottery,’ a judge refuses to dismiss corruption charges against six former council members.

    Former Bell Mayor Oscar Hernandez, left, with former councilmembers George Mirabal, Victor Bello, and Teresa Jacobo in court last month. A judge on Thursday rejected their motion to dismiss the charges against them.

    December 2, 2011
    A judge forcefully rejected a motion to drop corruption charges against six former Bell City Council members Thursday, dismissing their argument that they were entitled to annual salaries as high as $100,000 and saying that serving in the small, working-class city was “somewhat akin to winning the lottery.”

    In a scathing 10-page ruling, Judge Kathleen Kennedy pushed aside the former council members’ argument that they did not know they might be breaking the law and that their salaries were protected by the city’s charter, which was adopted in a little-noticed election that drew only several hundred voters.

    “The city of Bell charter,” Kennedy wrote, “did not make Bell a sovereign nation not subject to the general penal laws of the State of California.”

    The judge, who is scheduled to preside over the trial of the former Bell leaders, said that ignorance is not a defense and that the defendants “should have known that their conduct was illegal.”

    The six former council members, along with onetime City Administrator Robert Rizzo and his assistant, Angela Spaccia, were arrested last year.

    The charges against George Cole, Oscar Hernandez, Teresa Jacobo, Luis Artiga, Victor Bello and George Mirabal stem from the way they made their money. Council members were the only ones who sat on four city boards that seldom if ever met. By 2010, they were being paid $1,453 a month for serving on each of the boards.

    Kennedy said that when the boards met, “the majority of their meetings involved passing resolutions increasing their pay.”

    “These resolutions,” the judge added, “were cast in a manner that it would be difficult if not impossible for a citizen of Bell to even realize that their net effect was to increase the compensation of council members.”

    Defense attorneys argued that their clients didn’t know their salaries were divided among the boards and insisted that council members worked hard on board business but that minutes of the meetings were incompetently kept and didn’t reflect the time they put in.

    The attorneys also have argued that when just over 300 voters went to the polls in 2005 and approved a measure making Bell a charter city, it allowed council members to get around a state law that limited their pay.

    Defense attorneys said they realized their attempt to get the charges tossed was a long shot but said they intend to appeal.

    “This is an unprecedented case,” said Ronald Kaye, Cole’s attorney. “Legislators, judges, governors, when they receive too much money or when they are not doing the quality of job people think they are expected to do, the remedy is to kick them out of office.”

    Rizzo and Spaccia are accused of looting the city by drawing huge salaries that the council never approved, giving themselves extra benefits and lending city money to employees and business owners.

    Rizzo was receiving annual compensation of about $1.5 million when the Bell scandal erupted in July.

    No trial dates have been set. All of the defendants are free on bail.

    Kennedy is the second judge to excoriate the former council members. After a seven-day preliminary hearing in February, Judge Henry J. Hall suggested that prosecutors charge the former officials with additional crimes. He ordered the defendants to stay away from City Hall and have nothing to do with city business, even though three of them were still on the council, one as mayor.

  9. At least those people changed the City Charter for their personal benefit by a vote of the people. Unlike Peters, Shepherd, Thompson, Fotovich, et al, who tried to change the City Charter for their personal benefit behind the backs of the people.

    Who’s sleazier?

  10. State of Affairs says:

    Dear @ Judith: Why fuss at Judith? At least Gardner doesn’t have to pay for the intermodal. The residents of Edgerton didn’t get to vote “yes” or “no” for the intermodal. And, now I hear even tho the water/sewer fees are already high in Edgerton; the residents are possibly going to be asked to pay $12 a month more, or even as much as $174 a month more for the intermodal water/sewer set-up. Along with high property taxes, which the rate increases each year; altho property values go down.

  11. State of Affairs says:

    Definitely must be a new shipment of drugs in from Mexico.

  12. Im with stupid says:

    No need shipment! Made in the USA!!!

  13. Judith Rogers says:

    Apathy of the people brings about and continues corrupt government and I truly believe cronyism leads to corruption. The article said this: “which was adopted in a little-noticed election that drew only several hundred voters” Here in Gardner you have been seeing low voter turnout of only around 10 to 12% and there are consequences to this type of apathy – that and citizens not taking the independent effort to be informed and educated on important issues. Note I stated “independent” effort……………if you swallow all the propaganda put out there now and not do your own research, then you will see your status quo government continue. And, of course, you have the continued adverse affects from APPOINTED council members and other appointments.

  14. State of Affairs says:

    Trust but verify.–Ronald Reagan

  15. State of Affairs says:

    Revised–Research for the truth.–State of Affairs

  16. Why fuss at Judith? Well the fact that Judith fusses at absolutely everyone else is certainly reason enough to me.

    You certainly like to quote Ronald Reagan don’t you? Well excuse me if I am less than impressed. Ronald Reagan isn’t exactly who comes to my mind when I am looking for a wise sage to quote.

    That and now you are quoting yourself? Wow, ignoring the fact that that is the worst quote I’ve ever heard, how self absorbed can you be?

  17. @derp et al. says:

    State of Affairs says:
    December 12, 2011 at 9:03 am

    Trust but verify.–Ronald Reagan

    ” Meh…..” Contains nothing!

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