Topeka City Council Rejects Water Rate Hikes

By: Suzie Gilbert Email
By: Suzie Gilbert Email

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) -- Topeka residents and businesses won't see an increase in their water bills.

The Capital City's governing body rejected the utility hike proposal on a 7 to 3 vote Tuesday night (6/12).

Several council members tried to come to a compromise on the proposal, but their amendments failed. Public works officials say without that increased revenue, Topeka risks violating federal regulations.

Topeka Mayor Bill Bunten, Deputy Mayor Larry Wolgast and City Councilwoman Karen Hiller were the only votes in favor of the proposal.

It would have raised water rates after the first 15 hundred gallons used, storm water and waste water rates by about four percent for the next three years. It's an increase a number of residents say they feared.

"We will invest the amount of money that the council has allocated to us," Topeka Director of Utility Infrastructure Don Rankin said the revenue was to be used for infrastructure improvements.

Rankin said increased scrutiny from the Environmental Protection Agency means the city needs to update the Shunga pump station, and reduce sewer overflow, that's storm water running into sewage and overflowing into the river, issues that risk non-compliance.

"Some of those projects won't be done, that's a consequence. So, we will prioritize projects, and then the projects still have to come before the City Council for approval," Rankin said.

The Council rejected another water rate hike proposal by the same vote in February.


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