Topeka Council Members Reduce Spending And Increase Revenue

By: Justin Surrency Email
By: Justin Surrency Email

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW)__It's been just 6 weeks since Topeka city council members passed the 2014 city budget and Tuesday night, members addressed 2 items included in their plans to reduce spending and increase revenue, but some object to how it affects everybody's wallet.

Topeka city council members voted 7-2 to approve a 20 year contract with Westar Energy that increases users franchise fees from 5 to 6%.

It nets the city an extra $600,000 dollars, a cost Westar typically passes on to customers.

Council members John Campos and Elaine Schwartz, the two no votes, feel there has to be better way.

Campos said, "Well its $600,000 coming into the city but through a line item that every renter or homeowner will see on every bill. Be it gas, electric or water and I think it is unfair to increase property taxes and people's utility costs at the same time."

Council members also approved to allow the Topeka Zoo to contract out its concessions and admissions operations to a third party, most likely Friends of the Topeka Zoo.

The city says it will save more than $120,000 in the zoo's operating expenses..

Zoo director, Brendan Wiley said, "Simply look at are there better ways to run pieces of our operation by contracting whether it be concessions or event planning or even admissions. Now it gives us flexibility with our budget moving forward.

Westar customers will see the increased franchise fee on their bills beginning November 1st.

The increase comes at a time when Westar has asked state regulators to allow a rate increase as well. That decision is expected in December.

631 SW Commerce Pl. Topeka, Kansas 66615 phone: 785-272-6397 fax: 785-272-1363 email:
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