Gonzalo Garcia, utilities director, at the podium explaining a “power swap” proposal to the Utility Advisory Commission at their April 5 meeting. Staff photo by Rick Poppitz

Rick Poppitz
Special to The Gardner News
Water and wastewater rates may go up, if approved.
A presentation detailing results and recommendations from a Water and Wastewater Rate Study was given to the Utility Advisory Commission at the regular meeting on April 5. Suggestions included a 3 percent annual rate increase for water and 6.5 percent for waste water. Rates were last raised in 2012. It was an information-only presentation, no action was taken.
The commission also elected new officers, considered an “energy swap” and rebuilding of lift station pumps.

Water and Sewer Rates – next ten years
Laura Gray, Larkin Lamp Rynearson, led a presentation of rate recommendations resulting from the completed analysis.
“The goal of this is to make sure that what you have planned, you can afford to do. What you need to do, you can afford to do,” said Gray.
The evaluation used the city’s Capitol Improvement Plan (CIP) containing the Capitol Improvement Element (CIE) to analyze costs, schedule of improvements and determine rate recommendations.
The analysis looks at a 12 year period from 2016 to 2028.
The CIP/CIE calls for $59.7M of improvements in water services, $8M of that in the first five years.  For wastewater, the figure is $21.5M, with $17M of that coming in the first five years.
Gray said the wastewater costs in the next five years has really been a challenge to work with.
“We’re a little late to the game here, to get ready and prepare for those improvements,” she said.
Gray introduced her colleague, Colin Stalter, to continue the presentation.
“If [water] rates are not increased within the next ten years, the city could see upwards of a $3 million dollar accumulated budget deficit,” Statler said.
The report recommends a 3 percent annual rate increase for water rates and a 6.5 percent annual increase for wastewater.
According to the study, if no rate increases are applied to water, it could result in an estimated $3.1M budget deficit.
If no rate increases are applied to wastewater, the result in ten years could be an estimated $22.2M budget deficit.
Clint Barney, commission vice chair, wanted to confirm the last time rates were raised. Discussion consensus was that it was in 2012 when an 8 percent increase was recommended and a 6 percent “across the board” increase was enacted.
Commission had lengthy discussion after the presentation.
One item discussed was the wholesale rate the city sells water to New Century for.
Duane Waldman, commission member, was concerned that residential rates might be supplementing New Century’s water use.
Stalter said the reason New Century keeps increasing purchase volume is because Gardner’s wholesale rate is cheaper than alternatives.
“I know. We gave them a really, really nice figure. I still don’t know how that got through,” said Waldman.
There was discussion about whether or not the current water contract with New Century would allow rate increases. Discussion consensus was that the contract says rates could be raised the same amount as as residential but could not exceed 9 percent per year.
The Water and Wastewater Rate Study presentation at this meeting was to inform commission of the results. No action was taken.

Lift Station Pumps
With none opposed, commission approved recommendation to city council to authorize the city administrator to execute a service contract to rebuild two submersible pumps as part of the Kill Creek Lift Station Submersible Pump Project.
Last year, the UAC and city council approved rebuilding two submersible pumps, and this year staff is requesting to rebuild the remaining two submersible pumps.
Staff recommended awarding the service contract to DXP SuperCenter to rebuild two of the submersible pumps at a cost of $18,206 per pump.

Energy Swap
Commission considered recommendation for the sale of capacity to Dogwood Energy Facility. Gonzalo Garcia, utilities director, gave the staff presentation.
In 2018, the City of Gardner bought 20 MW of ownership in Dogwood Energy Facility through KMEA.
Dogwood wants to buy back 24 MW of capacity back from member cities for the period of June 1, 2019 through May 31, 2020.
Gardner has 10MW to sell, Ottawa and Russell have 5 MW each to sell, combining for 20 of the 24 MW Dogwood needs.
Osawatomie has 4 MW to sell, but cannot because it does not hold any interest or ownership in Dogwood. In order to sell the remaining 4 MW, Dogwood will purchase 14 MW system capacity from Gardner and Gardner will purchase 4 MW system capacity from Osawatomie.
The 4 MW system capacity purchase is just a “swapping” of capacity from Osawatomie to  Gardner which allows Gardner to sell  14 MW rather than just 10 MW.
According to Garcia, the city will net $20,000 from the arrangement.
Motion was made by Krievens, seconded by Waldman and carried with none opposed, to recommend that City Council approve a capacity transaction for 1) the sale of 14 MW to Dogwood Energy Facility; and 2) the purchase of 4 MW from the City of Osawatomie.

Ryan Learned, who has been serving as interim chair since Mark Baldwin took a seat on city council, was elected commission chair. Clint Barney was elected vice chair of the commission.
As a member city of the Kansas Municipal Energy Agency (KMEA), commission appoints two directors and one alternate to represent the city on the KMEA Board of Directors. Andrew Krievens is currently Director #1 with a term expiring in April 2019. At this meeting, Gonzalo Garcia, utilities director was reappointed for another two years term as Director #2. Clint Barney, was reappointed as Alternate.