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Council to introduce water and sewer bond issue election ordinances

City Manager Wayne A. Cauthen is proposing two revenue bond issues totaling $500 million that would provide significant water and sewer improvements in the Kansas City, with no tax increase for residents.

The City Council will introduce two ordinances at the 3 p.m. Council Legislative Session that would potentially place the bond issues on the August 2.

The ordinances are being sponsored by Mayor Kay Barnes and the following council members: Bill Skaggs, 1 st District; Bonnie Sue Cooper, 2 nd District-at-Large; John Fairfield 2 nd District; Troy Nash, 3 rd District-at-Large; Sandra McFadden-Weaver, 3 rd District; Becky Nace, 5 th District-at-Large; Terry Riley, 5 th District; Alvin Brooks, 6 th District - at-Large; and Chuck Eddy, 6 th District.

Voter approval of these bond issues will authorize the City to improve and expand upon its most basic and vital infrastructure – water and sewers. If approved by voters in August, the City will issue revenue bonds over the next 10 to 15 years for improvements, modernization and expansion of its water and sewer systems, including: transmission and distribution mains; small main replacements; the treatment plant; pump stations and reservoir; main extensions and relocations; water facilities; raw water intake; and water line replacements.

“These basic improvements are needed to maintain momentum for new development and redevelopment within the City. With water and sewers fundamental to growth, funding, authorization is needed now to keep the City ahead of the curve, much like Johnson County did in the 1970s and 1980s,” City Manager Wayne A. Cauthen said.

“This initiative will allow the City to direct growth, as opposed to only reacting to development-related water and sewer challenges, resulting in costly isolated projects,” Cauthen added.

Geographically, Kansas City is one of the largest cities in America with 2,700 miles of water mains with more than 50 percent that are 50 to 100 years old, requiring replacement at a level of one to two percent per year. The City also maintains 2,500 miles of sewers including 1,000 miles of combined sewers with many miles of sewers more than 100 years old still in service.

The last water/sewer revenue bond issue in Kansas City was approved by voters nearly a decade ago. Since then approximately 85 percent of those bonds have been issued for needed water and sewer projects throughout the City.

“These improvements also will improve water recovery rates by reducing leaks and reduce maintenance costs due to water main breaks caused by 100-year-old infrastructure,” Cauthen said.

“I look forward to the discussion with the council leading up to the May 19 Council Legislative Session, at which time such a measure would need to be voted on to be placed on the August 2 ballot,” Cauthen said.

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