Lawrence residents to pay more for city utilities in 2022; collections to resume soon

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The Lawrence City Commission on Tuesday approved utility rate hikes that will cost residents of single-family homes about $75 more per year, and collections will resume soon for nearly 4,000 accounts.


The average monthly utility bill — which includes water, wastewater, stormwater and solid waste — will increase by about $6.25 to $115, according to data that city staff presented during the meeting.

City Manager Craig Owens also told commissioners that the city will soon need to resume collections for nonpaying utility customers. Collections, late fees and shutoffs were suspended in March 2020 amid the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Owens said Lawrence is the only utility in the area that still has collections suspended. Altogether, there’s a balance of about $1.52 million unpaid on 3,807 active accounts.

Residents who owe for utilities will need to sign up for a payment plan by Jan. 1, 2022 or they could face collections or service disconnections, according to information in Owens’ report to the commission:


The form to sign up for plans was not yet available Tuesday evening.

The new utility rate structures will bring in nearly $4 million in additional revenue for the city. When commissioners approved the city budget over the summer, they planned for the utility rate increases to cover needed infrastructure improvements, though staff did not have the exact numbers at that time.

Those whose homes use natural gas will face higher bills for that service this winter, as well — if it’s a colder-than-average season, gas bills could increase up to 50%, and electricity could cost up to 15% more than normal.

The city recently launched a voluntary program for residents to contribute on their monthly bills to help others pay off their utility debts. According to information in Tuesday’s meeting agenda, 30 customers have signed up, totaling $356 in monthly contributions. The city has contracted with Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas to process applications for help from that fund, and the city will pay the charity $250 per approved application.

City staff will continue working with residents to ensure they’re connected with all available payment assistance resources, Owens’ report states.

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