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Utilities

Paving the Way Q+A Sessions

Curious about our upcoming PAVING THE WAY street repair project? Want to know more about how the project is being funded? Have questions about the proposed sales tax increase you’ll be seeing on the November ballot?

Come see us!

We’re hosting two come-and-go town hall Q+A sessions on September 22nd and October 6th, and we would love to chat with you about any concerns or questions you have regarding PAVING THE WAY. Each session is open from 3:00pm to 7:00pm at our pop-up planning center located at 545 Main Street in downtown Osawatomie.

Learn more at osawatomieks.org/paving-the-way.

Service Line Warranty Program

Beginning this week, Osawatomie residents will receive an informational brochure and letter in the mail from Home Serve USA, an NLC (National League of Cities) Service Line Warranty Program by Service Line Warranties of America. SLWA will be mailing a reminder letter the last week of September.

Please browse their brochure linked below, and see our FAQ section for more information on this optional, voluntary service.

Some frequently asked questions include:

Why Did the City Council Approve this Program?
Many residents are not aware that buried water or sewer lines on their property are their responsibility. A broken or blocked water or sewer line can cost thousands of dollars to repair or replace and many times residents are not prepared for this unexpected expense. Service Line Warranties of America (SLWA) not only works to educate residents but also provides a solution. (Click here to see the Council packet and minutes related to this approval.)

Why Did the City Choose to Partner with a Third Party?
SLWA has been recognized as the trusted source of utility line plans endorsed by the National League of Cities (NLC). Many utilities today are using public/ private partnerships and they have been successful in keeping taxes low and providing cost-effective services to citizens. Most citizens enjoy the benefits of public/private partnerships–whether through branding at a sporting event in a utility owned facility or utility parks and other entertainment venues with naming rights, public/private partnerships provide revenue that would otherwise be borne by the citizens. Partnering with SLWA allows the utility provider to have oversight of the program and ensure benefits for its constituents.

Why Are They Using the City Logo? Does the City Profit from this?
SLWA’s partnership agreement with the City allows the company to use the logos in communications to indicate that there is a formal relationship in place and to let residents know that the offering is legitimate. All of the mailings SLWA sends to residents are first reviewed and approved by the City (usually the City Clerk’s office). All SLWA materials clearly state that the services the company offers are voluntary and that they are offered by SLWA, a private company that is separate from the City.

Do Residents Really Need This Coverage?
It is difficult to determine when a pipe may fail, with key contributors being the type of piping material, age of the service pipe, soil conditions and installation quality. The median age of homes in the U.S. is 36 years, and can be much higher in various parts of the country, which means many service pipes are functioning on borrowed time. Water line repairs can be costly – a replacement averages $2,500 nationally* – but the modest cost of an SLWA service plan is optional and up to the homeowner to decide based on their personal circumstances. (*Estimate based on national average repair costs, January 2016.)


For more information on the NLC Service Line Warranty Program by Service Line Warranties of America, call 1-844-257-8795 or go to www.slwofa.com

Free Chlorine Burnout 2021

As part of its regular maintenance program, the City is conducting a free chlorine burnout of its water distribution system beginning today (August 16th, 2021) and continuing through September 16th, 2021. Periodically, the use of free chlorine (which is stronger and faster-acting than our regularly used combined chlorine) is necessary to ensure a thorough clean of the entire water system.

During the burnout, customers may notice open fire hydrants in town as we flush the system of any sediments and force the free chlorine through the lines. It is important to note that though there may be some odor or cloudiness in the water, it is harmless and safe to drink and use normally. We recommend letting your taps run until clear if you notice a change.

Customers who use tap water for in-home kidney dialysis should consult their doctor to determine if any changes are necessary in their residual disinfectant neutralization process. Customers using tap water for aquariums should monitor both free and combined chlorine residuals.

For questions or more information regarding this burnout process, contact the City’s Water Treatment Plant at (913) 755 4138.

Mosquito Treatment Update

MOSQUITO TREATMENT COMING SOON

  • Mosquito treatment cannot be scheduled in advance. As we’ve done in previous years, the City will treat on an as-needed basis as weather conditions and demand requires.
  • The City plans to treat THURSDAY evening (6/10/2021) of this week, weather permitting!
  • The City will treat ONLY in the late evening. We do our best to post on our Facebook page and website in advance of when we plan to treat.


Commonly Asked Questions:


Why only “as-needed”?

In an effort to not waste resources, the City instead has been using more larvacides (which treat the water and help prevent mosquitoes from emerging as biting adults), but will continue treating with the fogging adulticide to help eradicate the biting adults.

How dangerous are these chemicals?

We recommend keeping pets and children out of the yard for at least an hour after treatment just as a precaution, and we ask that you close your windows before treatment begins. We only treat between in the late evening, usually between the hours of 9:00pm and 1:00am after most other desirables (like butterflies and bees) have “gone home” for the night. The dosage of adulticide used in treatment is specially formulated to target those ultra-lightweight mosquitoes, and they are 100x more susceptible to it than the average weight honey bee.

What can I do to help my neighborhood?

The most impactful thing you can do is to locate and address sources of standing water on your property by either emptying the container regularly or using bacterial insecticide, which is safe, inexpensive and available at many hardware stores. Common sources of standing water include:

Rain gutters
Wading pools
Bird baths

Old tires
Wheelbarrows
Boats

Pet and livestock dishes or troughs
Water holding low areas
Garbage can lids

If you have questions about our mosquito treatment procedure, please call our Public Works Department at 913-755-4525

February 2021 Utility Timeline

The following is a to-the-day timeline of the severe weather-related utility price spikes experienced by the City of Osawatomie and the actions taken by staff and the Governing Body. A summarized news release regarding this continually evolving situation can be found here.

Quick Link to Timeline Summary

February 22, 2021Following the record-breaking cold weather and utility crisis that took place in mid-February, staff is notified by the Kansas Municipal Energy Agency (KMEA), an association of city utilities of which we are a member, that they are going to have a large bill and member cities would be moving to a weekly billing cycle the next two weeks instead of the regular monthly billing cycle. The reason for this is that KMEA’s Line of Credit that they could borrow against was $5,000,000 and the bill that they were going to get from Southwest Power Pool was for $9,000,000+; this imbalance meant that members needed to provide payment to the group on a more frequent basis to cover the gap in finances. As part of this temporary change in billing, KMEA provided all their member entities with an estimate and told Osawatomie to expect a bill between $700,000 and $1,000,000 for the total cost over the next two weeks (with the caveat it could go up or it could go down). KMEA said they wouldn’t know the final number for the first week’s payment until Friday (2/26/2021), but that we would need to have funds in the bank ready to be withdrawn by 12:00pm on Tuesday, March 2nd. So we were given notice that we needed to have some portion of $700,000 available by the following Tuesday, only two business days away. At that time, we only had about $500,000 in cash on hand in our Electric Utility Fund. We feared we were early in this financial/energy crisis and at this point there seemed to be a lot of guessing, so we started solving for a $1,000,000 problem, not knowing what it might be, but figuring that would give us some cushion.

February 24, 2021 – We amend our previously scheduled City Council Special Meeting Notice for a Special Meeting to be held on 2/25/2021. The only topic to be discussed is Resolution No. 849 – Declaring a Local State of Financial Emergency Relating to the February 2021 Energy Crisis. This mirrors the Miami County Commissioner’s declaration and the City of Louisburg’s declaration, and got the ball rolling on the State bringing assets to bear and helping with the problem.

February 25, 2021 – Working with our Bond Counsel and Financial Advisor, we identified KSA 10-116a which is a State Statute that allows city utilities to issue No Fund Warrants (borrow money) up to 25% of their annual revenues in a Utility Fund, if there is an extraordinary emergency in that utility. City Council meets in a special meeting and Resolution 849 is passed which then gave staff the ability to borrow up to $900,000 in No Fund Warrants. Remember, at this point we are still solving for what might be a $1,000,000 – we don’t know. That ability to borrow $900,000 and use $100,000 in cash on hand would get us to the $1,000,000.

February 26, 2021 – KMEA contacted the city at 10:57 am with what our first bill would be for the period of 2/10 through 2/16: the amount was $195,531.77. We asked if we could expect a similar amount for the following week, and the answer was probably, yes, but it could go up or go down. We then made an assumption that even if it did go up we could probably use some of our cash on hand to pay, but that we wanted to preserve as much cash as possible not knowing how all of this would eventually play out.

March 1, 2021 – We call for a special meeting for 3/2/2021 with the purpose of considering Resolution 850 – Authorizing the Issuance and Delivery of $400,000 in Principal Amount of No Fund Warrants Series 2021 (Electric Utility System). We arrived at that amount by doubling what our first payment was ($195,531.77), based on estimates received from KMEA. The goal from the beginning is to not borrow more money than we need in order to avoid interest expenses.

Simultaneous to all that was happening internally, we and several other cities/associations engaged the State in the problem. A bill was introduced and we submitted testimony in support of what became SB88, which created the City Utility Low-Interest Loan Program.

Mike Scanlon, City Manager

March 2, 2021 – The first payment of $195,531.77 is withdrawn. We hold another Special Meeting of City Council so the Governing Body can discuss and vote on Resolution 850, which grants us the authority to issue NFW and sell them to First Option Bank. The Resolution is published, becomes law, warrants are issued, and First Option provides us with $400,000 to both replenish and have cash available before our next payment due on 3/9/2021. We negotiated with First Option Bank and they agreed to buy our NFW at 1.2% APR.

March 3, 2021 – At 2:49 pm we receive our second bill from KMEA, totaling $498,163.32 which covered the period of 2/17 through 2/23. This represents what we believe to be our last “spike” billing for the City of Osawatomie, which brings the total in received spike bills to $693,695.09. This bill is due for withdrawal on 3/9/2021, just three business days away.

March 3, 2021 – In Topeka, SB88 is published and becomes law. The bill was introduced in the morning and voted through both the House and the Senate in the same afternoon. Governor Kelly signs it into law that evening. City of Osawatomie and other municipal utilities are eligible to borrow money from the state at .25% (one quarter of one percent).

March 4, 2021 – State Treasure starts promulgating rules and holds a conference call with municipal utilities to provide an update on the what is now called “City Utility Low-Interest Loan Program”

March 5, 2021 – The City Utility Low-Interest Loan Program application portal opens, and applications are accepted until March 15th.

March 11, 2021 – At their regular meeting, City Council passes Resolution 851 (which tells the City Manager to come up with a plan on how to allocate this bill in the future), Resolution 852 (which authorizes the City to apply to the loan program), Ordinance 3794 (authorizing the City to enter into Loan Agreements between the City and State of Kansas, and to use the first proceeds of the loan to repay the $400,000 in No Fund Warrants issued under Resolution 850 on 3/2/2021). Administration has spent the last week preparing the necessary documents for these proposed Resolutions and Ordinances, as well as continuing conversations with other agencies regarding the issue at large.

March 12, 2021 – City staff completes documentation for a loan request of $700,000 – covering the spike bills of $195,531.77 and $498,163.32 (total $693,695.09) plus other minor associated costs.

March 15, 2021 – State Treasurer Lynn Rogers set the deadline for applications at 5:00 pm on Monday (3/15/2021) for a piece of the $100,000,000 loan program, and funding became first-come first-serve for applications received after the deadline. As of Tuesday (3/16/2021) 53 city utilities applied for $69,519,697.04 in loans to cover extraordinary expenses in either electric or natural gas utilities. The portion we applied for ($700,000) was approved for payment, which we received by ACH on 3/17/2021.

March 19, 2021 – The City paid off the NFW at First Option Bank as was specified in Ordinance 3794. At this point the City has a $700,000 loan with the State of Kansas with a current annual interest rate of .25% (one quarter of one percent). This rate is adjustable every January. The loan from the State was 1% below what we offered by First Option Bank, so we took advantage of the lower interest rate.

March 25, 2021At the regular City Council meeting, the City Manager provided a proposed payment framework (seen below) for the City Council to consider, presented as Resolution 857. After much discussion, and with feedback from residents in attendance, Council voted to approve Resolution 857 and a 36-month framework for calculating collection of the spike charges. A final calendar and calculations will be presented at the April 8th meeting for discussion and approval before staff will begin implementing payment options on the mid-April utility bill.

The above is the proposed framework presented to City Council. Administration took samplings from actual consumer bills to create this snapshot of possible utility bill ranges and demonstrated how different prorated payment options could be applied to a variety of consumer types. City Council voted to pursue the 36-month option and administration will return at the April 8th meeting with a final calculation calendar for approval. “SB” and “LB” refer to the average size of the consumer’s utility bill: small or large.

Summary

Our first estimate was that we needed $700,000 available for payment over the course of eight business days for the two weeks of spike billing from KMEA. We only had $500,000 in our Electric Fund on hand, and we used $1,000,000 as our planning number – there was some fear that the $700,000 estimate might grow. Between NFW and cash on hand, we had a plan. The first bill from KMEA came in lower then expected, and we used it as a base line number to issue $400,000 (not up to the full $900,000 that Resolution 849 allowed) in NFWs. However, the second bill came in much higher and our total was closer to the original estimate of $700,000. Simultaneous to us issuing NFWs, the State jumped in to help cities and came up with a low-interest loan program which we used to pay off the original $400,000 in NFWs and cover most of the increased costs seen between 2/10 – 2/23. We are now working on how to best pass this “price spike” on to our electric utility customers, and will have a final plan in place after the April 8th City Council meeting.

How to Stay Informed

For residents wishing to stay informed of City news and happenings, we provide a variety of communication tools and always encourage attendance at Council meetings, which are held on the second and fourth Thursdays barring any federal holidays. Council meetings are free to attend, open to the public, and attendees are each allotted up to five minutes at the top of the meeting to voice concerns or questions regarding City business.

In addition to our online presence, the City also distributes a printed quarterly insert in the Miami County Republic that offers a comprehensive update of City news to those who might not have regular internet access. The next edition is scheduled to publish in the April 7th, 2021, edition of the Miami County Republic.

In emergency situations, the City also utilizes the Everbridge Alert System managed by the Miami County Sheriff’s Office. We encourage all residents to sign up for notifications through Everbridge.

For more information on this or any other City issue, please reach out to City Administration or your Council representative. We’re here to help!

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.