The current user fee, and the 2021 user fee, do not provide the funding necessary to maintain the City's substantial stormwater system. The fee is also not fair to all rate payers.
It is no secret that Kansas City, Kansas, like numerous communities throughout the United States, has serious infrastructure challenges. Without changing the way we do business, without making a quick and concerted effort, a majority of our stormwater system – a system that protects life, property, commerce, streets, and the environment will fail by 2031.
See the following animation for a visual representation of stormwater pipe condition from 2021-2031 if the user fee is not updated:
The animation above shows that a majority of the City's stormwater system will be in a state of failure by 2031 if we do not update the stormwater user fee.
In a practical sense, this means that closures like Hubbard Road, Roe Lane, and 91st Street will become more common, and the stormwater program will not be able to repair them. This also means that residents and businesses will continue to battle flood issues caused by poorly maintained ditches, undersized pipes, and destabilized creek banks.
The quality of local roads will also decline. Moisture is the natural enemy of pavement, and the stormwater system is also designed to help get water away from streets. The longer water remains on streets, the quicker they degrade on both the surface, in terms of potholes, and at the subsurface, in terms of washouts and cave-ins.
Updating the Stormwater Utility fee will also help the City take advantage of cost-saving measures like the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program. WIFIA is a federal credit program administered by Environmental Protection Agency for eligible water and wastewater infrastructure projects that combines low-interest rates with long-term repayment terms and deferred payments up to five years after a project’s completion.
The Unified Government has been awarded the opportunity to apply for this funding, and it would add extraordinary value to the capital investments the stormwater system needs. Without an updated stormwater user fee, the Unified Government will not be able to fully leverage or utilize this program.