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City tables vote on KDHE loan

By Burk Krohe

A city vote on a Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) loan was tabled at Tuesday’s special city meeting.

The KDHE loan would go toward replacing 4,767 older manually read water meters with new automatic meter reading (AMR) meters over a one-year period. KDHE has approved the city for a $3.08 million loan through the Kansas Public Water Supply Loan Fund (KPWSLF). The loan also carries a 40 percent principal forgiveness and a 10-year repayment schedule. The KDHE requires the City Commission to pass an ordinance authorizing execution of the loan.

However, commissioners said they would like more information on the cost and benefits. Commissioner John Matta told city officials and his fellow commissioners that he was unconvinced the loan provided the city an advantage over the city’s current practice of replacing water meters.

Robert Pugh, assistant director public works, said the automatic readers are more accurate, which would result in more revenue for the city. He also said more automated readers would allow the city to allocate staff to more important projects, and would also save money on gas and vehicle maintenance.

Dale Houdeshell, city public works director, said public works replaces between 150-190 manual meters with automated readers per year.

“I don’t know why I’m gonna do something that’s going to give me a negative cash flow for 10 years,” Matta said.

Commissioner Rich Jankovich agreed.

“I think we need to make sure we really understand what our real benefits out of this are,” Jankovich said. “I’m struggling with what we’re gaining here.”

Commissioners advised city staff to provide a more detailed cost-benefit analysis comparing the loan program and the city’s current practices for review at a future meeting.

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