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News Release: Utility Bill Update

NEWS RELEASE
March 26, 2021

(Download PDF)

Continued Utility Billing Actions Taken Regarding Electric Spike Charges

Osawatomie, Kansas – City officials continue to work toward a solution regarding the mid-February cold snap that caused price spikes in electric and natural gas utilities across the entire Midwest. The City of Osawatomie received around $700,000 in charges for a two-week period of severe weather, which is roughly the cost of six to eight months during a regular year. The issue has been a primary topic of concern at the February 25th, March 2nd, and March 11th meetings of City Council, and officials continued their discussion of the electric spike charges at the regularly scheduled March 25th meeting.

The City of Osawatomie was glad to receive a $700,000 ultra-low-interest loan from the State’s newly introduced City Utility Low-Interest Loan Program, which was designed for use by municipalities facing exorbitant utility bills as related to the February severe weather. This loan allows the City to pay off the $400,000 in higher interest no-fund warrants (NFW) as originally issued for the first portion of the charges due, and the City is able to stretch out repayment up to 10 years as compared to the one-year repayment for the NFW. This more forgiving repayment opportunity allows us to keep the monthly impact to consumers as low as possible.

After a presentation from City Manager Mike Scanlon regarding several proposed repayment options, and after listening to feedback from the residents in attendance, Council voted to approve a proposed 36-month framework repayment calendar. A final version of the plan will be presented and voted on at the April 8th meeting before implementation can begin in mid-April. The loan program timeline and necessary actions from City Council prevented these changes from appearing on the bill arriving next week as originally stated in a March 1st release. Once a plan has been established and approved by Council, the City will notify customers of their payment options.

A complete timeline of this process and actions taken, including the proposed framework calendar, is available on our website at www.osawatomieks.org/February-2021-utility-timeline.

The City of Osawatomie and all its associated staff members, community partners, and other advisory groups are grateful for the support and understanding of residents during this incredibly trying time. This has been a period of exhaustive new information, record-breaking speed of legislation, and complicated financial mathematics. The City is proud to have been on the forefront of many of these statewide conversations and spearheaded many of the solutions being implemented across the region.

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MEDIA CONTACT: SAM MOON
[email protected]
913-755-2146 x103

Press Release Regarding Extreme Weather Utility Bill

PRESS RELEASE | March 1, 2021

MEDIA CONTACT: Samantha Moon
[email protected]
913-755-2146, 103

OSAWATOMIE URGES RESIDENTS TO PREPARE FOR HIGHER UTILITY BILLING DUE TO EXTREME WEATHER AND THE RELATED ENERGY CRISIS

Osawatomie, Kansas – As the Midwest dug itself out of the extreme winter weather in mid-February, a new but related challenge presented itself. Power partners and providers across the Midwest were seeing hyper-inflated pricing due to the out of balance open markets, and municipalities across the region were scrambling to pay weekly energy bills that are more than 10x higher than their previous monthly averages. Osawatomie was not immune to market conditions, as we were told to expect our next weekly bill from KMEA to be valued at near $1,000,000.

Fortunately, some rates have been reevaluated and our pool credit applied to the open market charge and this week’s bill is now $195,531.00. We expect next Friday’s bill to be similarly high, as the rates didn’t immediately drop back to regular levels. In order to pay these much higher bills, we’re working with financial partner First Option Bank to issue no-funds utility warrants equivalent to $400,000 that we expect will cover the payments for this week and next. We sought this short-term financing in an effort to preserve our existing fund balances and protect our assets moving forward should another emergency present itself.

What does this higher bill mean for the consumer? It means that utility bills for Osawatomie residents willbe significantly higher for the month of February. We estimate that the average consumer will see an additional $235.00 on top of regular winter usage charges. This number will of course fluctuate depending on your home’s efficiency and your usage throughout the month. We recognize that this is yet another financial burden during an already financially stressful period for many households, so we are preparing two different payment plans for those unable to pay in full. “Plan A” will allow residents to pay the balance over three (3) months and “Plan B” will allow payment over six (6) months.

While this is undoubtedly a shock to many household budgets, we hope residents recognize how much worse this could have been and instead pride themselves on their conservation efforts during our energy crisis. We fully believe that our community’s dedication to conservation was the main contributing factor to our bill being so much lower than originally estimated. Because of your resolve to keep our community online and safe during the worst winter weather in a generation, you likely saved yourselves several hundred dollars in additional energy costs.

We urge residents to prepare for these increased utility bills and consider keeping usage to a minimum as we move into more pleasant spring-like weather to help offset the higher charges coming on the February bill.

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February 2021 Energy Crisis Ended

For everyone who has been following along with our energy crisis this week, we have good news. We can breathe again!

Water is still running through the intake facility at the water plant and the pumps are still moving. Our power pool (SPP) has downgraded to an Emergency Energy Alert Level 0 (EEA0), which means we’re in the minimal risk level of their emergency alert system. They have also, however, asked that we and those in our region continue to be conservative with our energy consumption until 10:00pm on February 20th, 2021 due to continuing higher load demands and continuing severe cold weather to ensure grid stability as we reintroduce systems (like school districts, businesses, etc.). If the grid gets overloaded, we start this process all over again!

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for tuning in to our updates, taking them seriously, and doing your part to keep our utilities as stable as possible. Many communities in our region were not as lucky, and we are grateful to everyone who was willing to sacrifice a little convenience and comfort to ensure continued safety for their neighbor.

This will be the last update regarding these utility challenges unless something critical changes in the coming days.

For the complete timeline of energy events, please visit our Notices page.

News Release Announcing Library Director Appointment

NEWS RELEASE
February 17th, 2021

MEDIA CONTACT: Samantha Moon
[email protected] | 913-755-2146 x103

OSAWATOMIE PUBLIC LIBRARY WELCOMES NEW DIRECTOR

Osawatomie, Kansas – The City of Osawatomie and the Library Board of Trustees are pleased to announce that Dr. Morgan Menefee Crabtree has been appointed as the next Library Director for the Osawatomie Public Library. Dr. Crabtree has spent her career in a variety of academic settings and school districts, and joins us from Osawatomie USD #367 where she served as a high school English teacher. After a comprehensive, multi-month search to find an individual with the experience and vision necessary to propel the Library forward, the Osawatomie Public Library’s Board of Trustees and City Manager unanimously approved her appointment.

Dr. Crabtree’s educational and professional background shows her dedication to research, ingenuity, and literacy across the board, and she will be an asset to the community at large. She will work to maintain her involvement in the school district’s existing literacy teams and strengthen the relationship between the Library and USD #367, and is eager to begin implementing her many ideas for programming across all ages. Her primary goal is one of universal, functional literacy for children and adults.

We believe that the Library is on the verge of a breakthrough into something bigger and better, due in large part to all the work that previous Director Elizabeth Trigg has done in the last several years. Dr. Crabtree will be a great leader as we continue that work to transform the library into the community space, literacy center, and ultimate creative anchor of our community for people of all ages and backgrounds. We believe she has the initiative and tenacity to continue the legacy of growth and community engagement that her predecessor Trigg battled for over the last decade.

We’re greatly looking forward to working with Dr. Crabtree and watching her lead the Osawatomie Public Library into the next generation.

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Cold Weather Rule

Statement of Purpose

The City of Osawatomie will generally not shut-off electric service for non-payment during cold weather months. Although the Kansas Corporation Commission’s “Cold Weather Rule” does not apply to municipally owned utilities like the City of Osawatomie, the City will follow portions of the KCC’s Rule to help ensure electric service will not be shut-off in cases of extreme cold. The purpose of this policy is to detail the City’s policies and procedures for shut-off during the cold weather months.

Policy

The period of observance for the Cold Weather Rule will be from November 1st through March 31st each winter season. During these months, the City will NOT shutoff electric utilities if the National Weather Service forecasts the temperature for
Osawatomie to drop below 35 degrees in the following 48 hours. In accordance with the City’s Utility Billing Policy, shut-offs will not be conducted on Fridays or the day prior to a holiday. If the temperature drops below 35 degrees after a service has been shut-off, the customer’s electric service will not be re-established until payment arrangements have been made with the City. The City reserves the right to shut-off water service for the non-payment of bills.

Procedures

The City may still conduct shutoffs during the winter months. Shut-off notices will still be issued according to standard Utility Billing procedures and any delinquency fees or interest on outstanding balances will still apply. After receiving notice of an impending shut-off, the service will be shut-off once the shut-off date has passed and the temperature forecast meets the Rule’s criteria. Prior to implementing shut-offs that are delayed after the shut-off day, due to observance of the Cold Weather Rule, the City will post a notice on the News section of its website that electric utilities will be shut-off for all delinquent customers beginning at a certain date and time. Customers wishing to monitor such notices may sign up for notifications from the webpage. The Cold Weather Rule will not apply to customers who have entered into a previous payment plan with the City. These customers will be required to pay their agreed upon installments in order to avoid disconnection. Customers will still be required to pay their utility bills to guarantee their utilities will not be shut-off or disconnected. In certain cases, such as violation of a payment agreement, fraud or criminal activity, the City has the right to shut-off or disconnect utilities for non-payment during the period of time the Cold Weather Rule is in effect.

Places That Can Help:

  • Ministerial Association (913) 755-3964
  • Salvation Army (785) 242-7450 x7640
  • United Way (866) 320-5764
  • Catholic Charities (913) 433-2039
  • Vineyard of Hope Church (913) 755-4500
  • SRS (913) 755-2162

For More Information:

Utilities Office (913) 755-2146, Option 1
www.osawatomieks.org