Liberty fights back against Kansas City's rising water rates, considers building own treatment plant

LIBERTY, Mo. - City officials in Liberty, Mo., are considering a plan to build their own waste water treatment plant in the face of rising rates from Kansas City.

Federally-mandated improvements that will cost billions over the next 25 years are driving up the rates because voter-approved bonds only cover a portion of the project. 

Liberty's $4-million-and-climbing bill is projected to increase up to 15 percent in coming years.

"That cost flows right to our customers," said Liberty city council member Jim Moore. The $50 million plan to build their own plant would be on the same trajectory as rising rates from Kansas City at first, but would even out and even be more cost effective as early as 2016 if approved by voters.

"We were surprised," Moore said. "The plant was going to cost more than we thought it would, but it still made sense."

The site of the proposed plant would be on the south side of Kansas City near 291 Highway and Old 210 highway.

Kansas City officials said Liberty makes up 3 percent of their 27 wholesale customers, which include Gladstone, North Kansas City, Raytown, Lee's Summit and parts of Johnson County.

They will try to work with Liberty on rates, but will otherwise spread out the loss among their other customers.

"(The loss) would be minimal," said Jennifer Kincaid with the Kansas City Water Services Department.

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