Sugar Creek residents will start seeing higher utility and trash service bills next year, as the city tries to catch up from raised rates by vendors.
In addition, those residents who have water service from Independence but have been delinquent on sewer payments to Sugar Creek could soon faces shut-off due to nonpayment.
The two cities are working out an agreement that, per state statute, allows Independence to shut off water for sewer service to delinquent Sugar Creek residents with Independence water service.
Sugar Creek Mayor Mike Larson said the average residential bill for water and sewer service will go up about $5 per month, as the Little Blue Valley Sewer District has raised rates and member Sugar Creek hasn't enacted in increase since 2017. The city, which buys water wholesale from Independence, also hasn't matched that city's rate schedule.
For example, Finance Director Christine McGhee told the Board of Aldermen in October, the city has paid Independence $905,000 annually for water but only billing $618,000 and collecting not even that. The sewer numbers are not as severe but still are in deficit.
Trash service, which the city has through Republic, will cost the city about $2 more per customer in 2020 – $20 total, which includes recycling and yard waste pickup.
“We're just keeping pace with Republic,” Larson said.
Senior citizen discounts of $1 each for trash and sewer will still be applied.
While Sugar Creek buys its water from Independence, a couple hundred of its residents have water service directly from Independence, and Sugar Creek officials say some of them have not paid sewer bills because there's not a consequence.
“They get a bill from us for water and a bill from them for sewer,” Independence Water Department Director Dan Montgomery, “and Sugar Creek couldn't shut them off.”
Larson acknowledged that has been a problem, but now both sides are doing the administrative legwork to resolve it. City officials from both sides have been putting together an agreement that, per state statute, allows Independence to shut off sewer service for a $100 fee.
The Sugar Creek's board has the agreement, and it heads to the Independence City Council early next year.
Said Montgomery, “We think it will work out.”