By Kathy Feist
“Shall the Public Water Supply District No. 2 of Cass County, Missouri, issue its waterworks revenue bonds in an aggregate amount not to exceed $8,000,000 to acquire, construct, improve and upgrade the water system to serve the district, including without limitation, to replace obsolete glued joint piping, to increase water capacity throughout the water system, to maintain compliance with drinking water regulations, and to be eligible to obtain grants and low-cost loans?”
It’s been 32 years since Belton area voters went to the polls to approve a $4 million bond issue for Public Water Supply District No. 2. That money is now essentially gone.
On April 5th, voters in the district must decide whether to approve an $8 million bond issue that would continue to improve and upgrade the water system within its boundaries of 175th St. to 239th St between State Line Rd and 71 Hwy.
In 1970, PWSD No. 2 began serving 300 customers with 47 miles of piping. Over the years it has expanded, serving 1,530 customers with105 miles of piping. However, not all water is piped efficiently. Water costing as much as $7,000 a month is unaccounted for due to leaks from glued pipe joints in the original 47 miles, according to Board President Ronald Wood. Crews have replaced 30 miles of the old pipe joints, but funding is needed to complete the remaining 17 miles.
As construction continues, more fire hydrants will be added in the district. “By adding fire hydrants every 1000 feet, it will lower property insurance costs for residents,” says Wood.
The $8 million bond will enable PWSD to borrow money and apply for grants. “The bond elevates our credit worthiness to borrow money for construction work,” explains Wood. If passed, PWSD No. 2 would apply for as much as $3.75 million in SRF loans and $3.75 million in grants. Upon receipt of significant funding, construction would begin immediately to replace the aging joints. This would reduce water loss and the cost that PWSD No. 2 pays its supplier, the Kansas City Water Department.
With any loan comes the obligation to pay it back.
The annual debt cost from a $3.5 million loan is expected to be around $180,000, but that cost would not be passed down to the consumer immediately..
“We would over time merge those annual debt service payments into our annual operating expenses,” says General Manager Jeffrey Smith, “but we would manage the increases to not produce an unusual significant increase.”
In October, PWSD No. 2 customers will see a 5 percent increase in retail rates regardless of the passage of bonds. This reflects the rate increases over the past five years from the Kansas City Water Department..The last rate increase to consumers was five years ago.
It should be noted that costs are passed to the consumer one way or another. Customers are the only source of revenue for a public water district.
“If we don’t have financing from bonds, we would do a lot of small projects which are more expensive,” says Wood.
“We have to have this bond issue capacity,” says Wood. “By having the revenue from the bonds, the water district can borrow against it, raising funds from loans rather than charging customers with an increase in rates.”