The City of Girard has had one of the lowest water rates of any communities in southeast Kansas. That is going to change, effective Oct. 1.

The City of Girard has had one of the lowest water rates of any communities in southeast Kansas. That is going to change, effective Oct. 1.

During a work session Thursday night, the Girard City Council discussed various options, and voted to approve a rate increase.

“Basically, our current rates were insufficient to maintain a reserve balance our water fund,” said Girard mayor Maurice Harley. “These increases will help build a balance in the fund.”

“Current cost of 5,000 gallons is $26.04, and that would go to $38.10,” said Girard mayor Maurice Harley.

The new policy also eliminates the declining scale which favors high-end water users.

“Girard is actually a rarity in still having a declining scale,” said Gary Emry, Girard city administrator. “They’re considered to be antiquated, and most communities have eliminated them.”

Current in-town minimum rate is $7.31 for 1,000 gallons, $6.52 for the second 1,000 gallons, $4.07 per 1,000 gallons for those using between 3,000 and 74,000 gallons, and $3.52 per 1,000 gallons for those using more than 75,000 gallons.

By contrast, Harley said that it costs the city $6.08 to deliver 1,000 gallons of water. In 2010 the city sold 75,947,000 gallons.

“Once we get past the first 1,000 gallons, we are losing money,” the mayor said. “Girard uses around 600,000 gallons of water a day.”

Council member Susan Thom has consistently said that she favors a flat rate, with everybody paying the same amount.

“But I did say that with an asterisk,” she said.

The asterisk involves water users living outside the city limits.

“It just costs more to service those living outside the city,” Emry said.

“Rates for consumers outside the city will increase at the same percentage as the in-town rates,” Harley said.

Council member Melody Cherry asked what benefits community residents will receive as a result of the increased rates.

Harley said that the increase will help cover the debt service incurred by the city for upcoming improvements to the water system. The main expense will be construction of new water towers which will address low water pressure problems in the city.

“Our existing water towers are not high enough for adequate water pressure,” Harley said. “Right now our pressure is about a third lower than the standard. This is a safety issue, because we have a hard time fighting fires with the water pressure we have now.”

The low pressure also impacts water users.

“Girard Medical Center had to buy a $10,000 booster pump to increase water pressure at the hospital,” Harley said.

He added that improved utilities will make the community much more inviting to any business that requires high water pressure in its operations.

“The new towers will also give us additional storage,” Harley said. “Right now we have around one day of water in the tanks, and the new tanks will hold about 1 1/2 days of water.”

Council members also discussed ways of educating the public about the upcoming increase, including the possibility of sending out newsletters or scheduling public forums.