Mark Taylor
Gardner’s Board of Public Utilities Exploratory Committee is inching closer to making a final recommendation to the city council.
The committee is charged with studying the pros and cons of a BPU 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 would be worthwhile for Gardner, and if so, make a recommendation to the city council.
Gardner owns its own water, wastewater and electric utilities. Water and wastewater are under the purview of the city council and electric is governed by an appointed board.
During the most recent BPU Exploratory Committee meeting, members agreed to begin composing a white paper for council members to consider in making their decision.
The white paper will include a history of BPUs in the in Kansas, and cite the success of the city’s recently appointed electric utility board.
Over the past several weeks, committee members have studied the utilities’ revenues and expenditures, heard presentations on other BPUs and met with Water District 7 officials.
During the committee’s most recent meeting, members hashed out bullet points to serve as an outline for the white paper.
Details will be filled in during future meetings.
Among goals cited by committee members have included stabilizing utility rates, taking politics out of utility management and running the utilities more like a business.
Committee members have said the utilities banked on growth that didn’t happen in recent years and also didn’t raise rates for seven years.
As a result, rates have gone up 8 percent per year for the last three years and are expected to increase by 6 percent in 2012.
The board’s next meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m on Jan. 18.