Garden City applies for state loan for utility assistance

Meghan Flynn
Garden City Telegram
Digital electric meters run for a group of Garden City residences. The Garden City Commission approved Tuesday for the city to apply for the state of Kansas' utility low-interest loan program.

The Garden City Commission applied for a utility low-interest loan program through the state of Kansas for assistance in financing high utility costs incurred during the extreme winter weather in February at a special meeting Wednesday.

The cold weather incurred just over $10 million in additional expenses to the city's electric utility.

A financial emergency was declared by the Garden City Commission at its regular meeting Feb. 16 due to the high costs.

Mike Muirhead, Garden City Public Utilities director, said the loan program is available to any city in Kansas that has incurred extraordinary costs due to the weather.

$100 million is available to be given out to cities that qualify for the program, and cities with the most immediate needs for the funds will be given priority, Muirhead said.

"The loan proceeds may only be used for funds incurred by the city in operating it's electric or natural gas utility system," he said. "The loan proceeds may not be used to pay electric or gas utility bills that the city would have otherwise incurred as a consumer of the utility services."

Muirhead said the loan must be paid back over a period not to exceed 10 years.

it's unknown how long after application the city could receive funds, but it could be fairly quickly, Muirhead said. Some cities that applied for the loan on Monday night received funds by Tuesday afternoon.

"It depends on the immediate need," he said. "Some of those cities did not have the funds necessary to pay the bill, we've been fortunate, but we've drawn down the reserves ... But it's entirely up to the state treasurer's office to determine the immediate need."