WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – The Wichita City Council voted unanimously in favor of increasing home owner’s storm water rates.
On average, the increase would depend on the size of the lot and would range from 50 cents to $5.50 a month.
Alan King, the Wichita Public Works Director, says it’s desperately needed.
“In about four or five years, we will deplete our storm water fund,” says King. “This money would maintain a stable balance in the storm water fund so (that) it’s not declining to zero.”
King says aging infrastructure, along with continuing storm water runoff areas like the Cowskin Creek, cost the city each year.
KSN News asked King if the city could have addressed the aging storm water drainage system in Wichita years ago.
“In fact, we did ask the city council for additional money for projects regarding increases for storm water utility,” says King. “But, it’s not an idea the council or the public warmed up to.”
King says each homeowner now pays $2 a month, roughly. The new plan would add about $1.50 more a month for a homeowner.
Depending on the number of buildings (roofing) on each property, the rates would be higher. More roofing area on each property means more storm water runoff.
“It would allow us to pay up to $950,000 a year to replace things like failing pipes and culverts,” says King. “It would also allow us to set aside $1.4 million a year for some of the large projects.”
KSN talked to Wichita Vice Mayor Jane Miller who said the increase was necessary.
“That rate has not been, or fee has not been adjusted in ten years, and Wichita is really suffering from a number of poor drainage problems and storm water infrastructure issues and so the increase in the fee was absolutely necessary in order to keep from getting further behind and right now we’re not even keeping up, let alone getting kind of ahead of major failures.”