Archive for Thursday, April 26, 2007

City council right to study sewer extensions

April 26, 2007

The city of De Soto celebrated the completion of its new $9 million wastewater plant last Thursday with a ribbon cutting and open house at the new facility in the West Bottoms. There was reason to celebrate. The opening of the 1.3 million-gallon-a-day capacity plant removed any concern the city's growth would be limited by its sewer treatment capacity.

In fact, the pendulum now springs the other way. If it is to spare city sewer customers higher rates, the city needs to increase the number of homes and businesses it serves.

Unfortunately, the sewer was completed in a housing slump. There was not a single new home building permit issued in De Soto the first three months of this year. With that start, it is going to be difficult to reach the 45 homes the debt service schedule projected for this year.

Earlier this month, the De Soto City Council considered extending a sewer line from a point on the Huhtamaki Americas Inc. property to 95th Street and Lexington Avenue. The project, which would cost an estimated $500,000, would run the line south from Huhtamaki under Kansas Highway 10 to 95th Street and then west to the Lexington Avenue intersection, an attractive area for commercial growth. If the city wants to get the bang for its buck with the project, it should consider extending the line east of the Kill Creek 95th Street intersection, as well.

All this costs money, but as Mayor Dave Anderson noted there is a potential source that could pay for the extensions without increasing the burden on taxpayers -- the city's $2.5 million electrical utility fund. That fund was established with the understanding it could be used to benefit city utility customers.

Councilman Tim Maniez has been the most cautious voice on the council when Anderson suggested past uses of the utility fund. This time, he didn't oppose Anderson's proposed use but insisted a plan be in place to repay the fund so it could continue to give the city options in tough times.

We agree with both the mayor's and the councilman's positions. Clearly, the city has to take steps to spur growth, particularly commercial growth, in De Soto. If the utility fund is used for that purpose a business plan should be in place to ensure it is replenished.

The council might further consider this to be a start and use part of the utility fund as a revolving loan arrangement that could pay off capital utility projects that would benefit the city's utility customers.

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