When they met Tuesday, Leavenworth city commissioners discussed millions of dollars worth of needed repairs to the city's stormwater system as well as possible funding sources.

When they met Tuesday, Leavenworth city commissioners discussed millions of dollars worth of needed repairs to the city's stormwater system as well as possible funding sources.

Public Works Director Mike McDonald and Deputy Public Works Director Mike Hooper reviewed options for generating additional money for stormwater maintenance including the establishment of fees or a separate mill levy for property taxes.

The discussion occurred during a study session, and commissioners took no action.

City Manager Paul Kramer said the issue will be discussed during future meetings.

McDonald said more than $40 million worth of work has been identified for maintaining the city's current stormwater system.

Hooper later placed the cost of repair and replacement projects at $70.8 million.

Hooper said city officials will not be able to take care of these projects in the next year or even the next 20 years.

According to McDonald, the city's stormwater system includes about 102 miles of underground pipes and open ditches, as well as about 3,300 drainage structures.

McDonald and Hooper said various materials have been used for the stormwater system during the course of the city's history.

"The oldest city of Kansas has the oldest infrastructure of Kansas, and it shows," McDonald said.

But age is not the only problem. McDonald said the choice of materials used also has resulted in problems.

Kramer said corrugated metal that was used for stormwater projects in the 1980s has rusted.

Currently, city officials have about $325,000 to spend each year for stormwater projects.

Mayor Pro-Tem Mark Preisinger asked how much money will be needed over the next 10 years.

McDonald said the city probably would need to budget at least an additional $1 million per year.

"You can probably do meaningful work with that," he said.

McDonald and Hooper reviewed several options for generating more money.

McDonald said the simplest way may be to add a fee that would be included on people's water bills.

"It's a modest fee," he said.

Hooper used an example of charging $5 per month for each residential property, $50 per month for each commercial property and $250 per month for each industrial property.

Using this fee scale for water customers would raise about $1 million per year, Hooper said.

Another idea was charging a fee to property owners based on the zoning classification of their properties.

Using a fee scale of $5 per month for properties zoned for residential use, $50 per month for commercial properties and $250 per month for industrial properties, this would raise about $2 million per month, Hooper said.

Another possible option would be a property tax, or mill levy, dedicated to stormwater projects.

Commissioner Larry Dedeke said he would prefer charging a set fee to people who have water meters.

Commissioner Lisa Weakley said this would apply to even properties that are exempt from property taxes.

Preisinger suggested creating a fee based on the amount of water customers use.

"I would like to have more community input into this," Mayor Nancy Bauder said.

Kramer said the issue may be brought back to commissioners for more in a month or so.

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