Concerns about the future cost of water in the small northern Platte County town were a hot item for the Dearborn Board of Aldermen Monday night.
Dearborn has an agreement with the City of Kansas City under which Kansas City will bring a water line to Dearborn at a cost of just over $700,000.
Dearborn will encounter other costs, including about $45,000 for a vault, which is a specially designed pit with a meter in place to read usage where the Kansas City line meets the main Dearborn water line. There will be an automatic shutoff system in the vault, which will stop the water flow when the Dearborn tower is full.
Dearborn will also incur the costs of running about 1,000 feet of 8″ water line to connect its system to the Kansas City line.
Kansas City has agreed to finance the $700,000 in cost of running the line to Dearborn over a period of 20 years at 4.5%.
The monthly payment for that portion is roughly $4,500. Cost of water used by the city will be over and above that. Landes estimates the city’s total payment to Kansas City for the cost of the line and water purchased will run about $7,300 per month.
“We need to get our lines in so we can shut down our current water plant. The savings we’ll have on operating expenses will take care of a bunch of the cost,” for the new service with Kansas City, Landes said.
Kansas City will start charging its monthly payment to Dearborn in November, so Dearborn obviously wants to be ready to have the service connected to the Kansas City line by then so it can shut down its current plant and put the savings toward the new system.
Landes said the city is also checking into the possibility of getting a grant to help cover the cost.
“Any grant we get we can apply to the Kansas City project without any penalty,” Landes said.
“We haven’t discussed water rates yet. When we do, new rates will have to be approved by the government agency that financed the old water system, which lacks about 10 years of being paid off,” Landes said.
Lila Scrivener, member of the board of aldermen, assured those in attendance the city will try to keep costs to residents as low as possible.
“Our main goal is we’re trying hard to get (any increase) at a minimum for residents,” she told a crowd of about 12-15 people sitting in on Monday night’s meeting.
Scrivener said the decision to hook on with Kansas City, which was made by a previous mayor/council, was the right one.
“It’s going to be less expensive than upgrading our current system would have been,” she explained.
Landes said the Missouri Department of Natural Resources had advised the city options for the old plant included shutting it down or spending about $3 million to bring it up to standards. He said that made the decision to hook on with Kansas City an easy one.
Gary Bomar, resident, asked for assurance that the board will seek to cut expenses where possible in an effort to keep rates as low as possible. He later specified he was referring to labor costs.
City officials said employees are aware hours/positions will be cut when the connection is made. They acknowledged the new system will not require nearly as many man hours as the old one. “There will be a cut in labor. We see it as a plan. The employees all understand that,” Scrivener said.
It was reported the city at present is paying for about 180 man hours for water employees per two-week pay period.
Bomar said he feels one area of potential savings is to look at deferred compensation plans being given to employees. It was reported one employee is receiving roughly $700 in deferred compensation after he found less expensive insurance than the city’s plan.
Bomar said he was on the board at the time that decision was made, but he felt the plan was only intended to be temporary. The employee has been receiving that monthly compensation for several years.
In other business at Monday night’s meeting:
•The board discussed asking Buchanan County to de-annex the ground on which the Dearborn city park sits. Platte County has park funds that could go to Dearborn if the park become part of Platte County. “We’re so far south that Buchanan County forgets about us,” Landes said.
•Heard that the city’s total assessed valuation is roughly $3.6 million. It was mentioned the city needs to be sure to forward its list of approved building permits to the county so that property improvements can get on the tax roll and help increase the assessed valuation.