Archive for Thursday, April 12, 2007

Council to explore sewer extension

April 12, 2007

The De Soto City Council agrees a sewer line should be extended south of Kansas Highway 10 to stimulate economic development -- if they can find a way to pay for it.

The discussion of the need to extend a line to the south of the highway came up last Thursday as the council was set to approve a resolution adopting a five-year capital improvement plan. The resolution on the CIP was considered routine enough to be placed in the council's consent agenda. It was developed through a process that included two joint meetings of council members and those sitting on the De Soto Park and Recreation and De Soto Planning commissions and economic development council, one additional council meeting and discussion at past council meetings.

But Councilwoman Mitra Templin wanted to discuss the sewer extension, which was not listed among the funded projects in the resolution.

Candidates for the council brought up the extension of sewer lines in the recent campaign, and Templin said extending a sewer main south of K-10 along Lexington Avenue was one of the items discussed among the sub-group she participated in during the CIP discussions.

At the start of the CIP development process, City Administrator Pat Guilfoyle said the city could include $6 million on general fund projects and $2.5 million for sewer and water utility projects without increasing the mill levy.

The estimated $500,000 extension of the sewer line from the southwest corner of the Huhtamaki Americas parking lot to the Lexington Avenue/91st Street intersection was bumped from the project list in favor of such things as a larger-capacity $377,000 water tower to replace the one at Waverly Road and 90th Street.

The CIP projects for the two utilities would be paid for through system development fees charged on new hookups. Adding another project, such as the sewer line extension, would have to be paid for by some other means.

There were several payment options, Guilfoyle said. It could be extended with the expectation it would generate the connections needed to pay for it, paid for through increased rate increases or paid for with mill levy support (it would take an estimated half mill increase to build the extension), he said.

Mayor Dave Anderson suggested a third option.

"The $2.5 million in the electric utility fund," he said. "Use part of it, and pay it back."

Councilman Tim Maniez has been skeptical of past suggestions by the mayor to make use of the fund, but said he might support its use for a sewer main extension with the right conditions.

"I never had a problem with using that money if there is a plan on paying it back," he said. "I still think that.

"If that fund wasn't there, we wouldn't be having this discussion."

Such a plan would require a study of whether the sewer main would stimulate the economic development needed to pay for it, council members agreed. At the suggestion of Councilman Ted Morse, it was also agreed the city needed to look at the best place to extend a sewer main to realize the goal of economic development.

With that, the council unanimously approved the CIP resolution.

Guilfoyle said work would progress on the financial aspects of the CIP process. Part of that will include recommendations to refinance current city debt to lower interest rates, he said. Updated and more extensive project cost estimates would also be developed with a more thorough review of funding sources and their availability for chosen projects, he said.

When that work was done, a timeline for projects could be scheduled, Guilfoyle said.

The city could bond all the projects upfront or take the approach of a construction loan, Guilfoyle said, and borrow as needed as the five years passed.

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