What’s behind those Wastewater bill increases? A decrease in property taxes

Some residents in northeast Johnson County have been surprised by their bills arriving in the mailbox from Johnson County Wastewater in recent weeks. In fact, we’ve had several Prairie Village Post readers write in wondering why they are seeing their bi-monthly bill nearly double from the last mailing they received.

Not to panic. It is all about moving the capital charges off your tax bill and moving them onto your usage bill. Less conspicuous than the seemingly high wastewater bill that just arrived was the disappearance of a charge from the November 2012 property tax bill that had been labeled “Wastewtr Cap.”

On the November 2011 tax bill, that charge was $138 for single-family residences. The 2013 capital charge for a single-family house is $148, but is divided into six bi-monthly bills of $24.67. Seeing the capital charge on the bill led some customers to believe their rates had doubled. The usage rate has gone up, but only from $2.50 per 1,000 gallons to $2.67 per 1,000 gallons (based on average winter water use).

The wastewater bill consists of the capital charge, use charge and a $5.40 bi-monthly service charge.

The new billing system started hitting the door in late January. Lisa Davis at Johnson County Wastewater says they have received a number of calls because of the change, but most people understand and accept it once it is explained.

For some renters — those who pay their own wastewater bill — there may be a different twist. The apartment owner may have been getting the capital charge on the tax bill and now the renter sees it on the wastewater bill.

The changes were made for government transparency and to bring Johnson County in line with best practices for a true utility, according to its billing brochure.