Harrisonville water improvement plans set to go to voters

bbashioum@demo-mo.comAugust 22, 2014 

It will be up to Harrisonville voters to decide whether they’re willing to pay for better-tasting water.

The city’s Board of Aldermen unanimously agreed Aug. 18 to put the proposal on the Nov. 4 ballot. Voters will be asked to authorize $7 million in combined water and sewer revenue bonds to finance upgrades to Harrisonville’s water treatment plant.

Public Works Director Jerry Gibbs said the upgrades would give Harrisonville some of the best water in the metropolitan area.

“With the improvements being proposed, you will eliminate all of the taste and odor issues that we’ve experienced over the last few years,” Gibbs said.

The city needs $9.5 million to complete the upgrade, which also would enable Harrisonville to extend the life of its water system.

If voters approve the $7 million, the city plans to use $2.5 million in previously approved revenue bonds to cover the rest of the cost.

Gibbs noted that that the city has had a manganese issue in its water over the last couple of weeks.

“That would be eliminated,” Gibbs said.

To pay back the bonds over the next 20 years, the city would phase in a rate hike for utility customers to the tune of about $3 per 1,000 gallons of water used.

Gibbs said the increases would be imposed gradually over several years.

City leaders also approved a resolution Monday authorizing City Administrator Keith Moody to execute a scope of services agreement with the engineering firm Burns & McDonnell for the water plant project.

“This is the next step of the process – to begin the design of the improvements necessary,” Gibbs said.

Once they get voter approval, the aldermen would then grant Burns & McDonnell permission to proceed

Before the regular Board of Aldermen meeting, Moody reviewed his 2015 budget proposal with the aldermen and members of the city’s staff .

Items of interest include:

• A 2.5 percent merit pay increase for each city department.

• A 2 percent decrease in the city’s LAGERS retirement system contribution for police and general employees, and a 1 percent decrease for fire employees.

• A $25 monthly increase in the city’s contribution toward employee health/dental insurance premiums.

• A $.0017 property tax rate increase, increasing tax revenue by $27,765.

• A fee increase of 25 cents a month for trash collection

• Three new police patrol vehicles, as part of the city’s established equipment replacement schedule.

The budget calls for a general fund operating surplus of $297,340. The cash flow reserve balance of $2,752,152 is $6,700 over the city’s benchmark.

“The board has spent a great deal of time reviewing this,” Mayor Kevin Wood said. “We understand that the economy is not as strong as it once was and we pray that someday it will get better.”

A copy of the proposed budget is available for citizen review at City Hall and at the library.

The board’s first opportunity to give budget approval will be at its Sept. 2 meeting, which starts at 7 p.m.

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