How the City of Atchison found relief from a major sewer obligation

The city of Atchison has an important lesson to teach about facing your fears.
For months, city administrators expected they would face the city commission in December to recommend significantly increasing sewer rates and fees for 2017 as the solution to making a state-mandated $3.1 million in revenue in the sewer fund for sewer remediation.
The plan, as presented during summer budgeting workshops, was to raise the sewer rate by 5 percent and the CSO fee by 65 percent in 2017 to span a $500,000 gap in required revenue, which would have increased residential utility bills by an average of $120 annually.
Then, at the final city commission meeting of the year, on Dec. 19, city staff made a surprising recommendation – maintain all current rates and fees. When commissioners approved, they made 2017 the first year in the city of Atchison since 2008 with no utility rate increases.
The funding gap still exists, so what happened to the plan? In short, the city faced its fears. Staffers met with the Kansas Dept. of Health and Environment, whose consent order on the city mandates the $3.1 million revenue requirement, in December to, maybe, renegotiate the deal.
And it worked.

(Read more: Atchison Globe Now)