Proposed Utility Rate Increases for 2024 – 2026

Proposed Utility Rate Increases for 2024 – 2026

At the December 13, City Council Meeting, city staff proposed utility rate increases beginning in 2024, for a three-year period. Discussion will continue during the December 20 council meeting. The proposed rate increases average out to 9.85% for water, wastewater and stormwater during the three-year period.
The increases are necessary to:
  1. Sustain existing operations and maintenance activities amid increasing inflation related to chemicals, materials, and contracted services
  2. Address the city’s frequent water service disruptions
  3. Ensure the city can maintain safe drinking water
  4. Continue to meet regulatory requirements for water, stormwater and wastewater
By approving these rates, city staff will be able to improve the customer service experience by continuing to replace old and failing lines, addressing localized flooding and sanitary back-ups, and more. Without these increases, city staff will only be able to react to issues as they come up.
  1. Inflation
  2. Existing debt
  3. Ever-changing regulatory requirements
  4. Deferred maintenance/aging infrastructure
In 2023, the average City of Topeka family will pay $93 for city utilities. The proposed rates will increase that amount in 2024 by about $9.

Note: This rate is for customers inside the city limits.
Even with these proposed increases, our rates are lower for a typical household in comparison to surrounding cities, like Kansas City, KS, Lawrence, Olathe, and Overland Park.

A comparison chart is available in the presentation from the December 13 City Council Meeting.
The rising cost of chemicals, materials and competitive wages took effect after preliminary estimates were completed. At the Governing Body’s request, city finance staff were asked to consider the impact of using ARPA dollars as a way to reduce utility rates. After running this analysis, it was discovered that the impact to the city utilities customer was very small. By utilizing the ARPA dollars for non-utility projects, the impact to the customer through debt avoidance and property tax control is much greater. To view the list of approved ARPA projects, view page 207 of the budget document.
The city has proactively researched and applied for available grants and loans, including the Federal Infrastructure Bill that is being administered by the State of Kansas. Currently, the city is pursuing grants and/or loans with forgiveness for the replacement of Lead Service Lines, as well as utilizing a cost-share program for improvements along the Shunganunga Creek. In 2022, the city applied for and was not selected for an EPA funded grant to be used for the Lead Service Line project. The city intends to reapply in 2023.
The City of Topeka is looking to expand upon its existing Water and Wastewater Utility Rate Refund Program. The expanded program would allow the city to serve more residents, including home owners and renters, increase the annual credit amount to $160, and allow us to provide water efficiency kits to help customers save money on their bill by reducing their monthly usage.

The city offers other assistance programs including, but not limited to:

Culvert Replacement Program

Emergency Repair Program

Information shared during the December 13 Meeting

Information shared during the December 20 Meeting

Discussions in the local media

Public Meetings