When they met this week, Leavenworth city commissioners took a step toward enacting rate increases for sewer and trash collection services.

When they met this week, Leavenworth city commissioners took a step toward enacting rate increases for sewer and trash collection services.

Commissioners had their first consideration Tuesday of an ordinance that would increase wastewater, or sewer, rates by 8% for 2020. They also had first consideration of an ordinance to increase refuse rates by 6%.

Commissioners reached consensuses to advance the ordinances for final votes during a future meeting.

City Manager Paul Kramer said commissioners discussed the rate increases when they were reviewing the city’s 2020 budget earlier this year. But the rate increases have to be enacted through ordinances.

Kramer said the proposed rate increase for sewer service is needed to maintain operations.

He said an equipment replacement project at the city’s Wastewater Plant could cost about $250,000.

“There isn’t any capital reserve to accomplish that project,” he said.

He said there also are increased personnel costs resulting from a classification and compensation study as well as increased costs for health insurance.

Mayor Pro-Tem Mike Griswold said he did agree to the 8% increase as part of the budget process. But Griswold said he believes an 8% increase every year is a little onerous. He suggested there may be things city officials can do to reduce rate increases going forward.

Commissioner Nancy Bauder said she believes an 8% rate increase needs to be temporary.

Commissioner Mark Preisinger acknowledged that an 8% increase is big. But he noted that the minimum fee charged for sewer service would increase by 88 cents per month. The maximum fee charged would increase by $4.75 per month.

He said the city needs to build reserves for the wastewater fund.

When it comes to the city’s refuse service, Kramer said there also are wage increases and higher insurance costs for solid waste collection employees. He said there also are costs associated with utilities, landfill fees and commodities.

The city charges a standard rate for residential customers of the refuse service. This rate would increase by $1.09 per month.

If the ordinances are approved, the rate increases for 2020 would go into effect in December of this year.

The refuse rate was increased by 8% for 2019. And wastewater rates were increased by 5% for 2019, according to Public Works Director Mike McDonald.

Twitter: @LVTNewsJohnR