North Newton was born as a city after a fight with Newton over sanitary sewer, and it seems the sewage struggle has never really gone away.
However, there is an opportunity now — according to Newton city staff — to negotiate a way to create a new agreement, after North Newton found itself in a desperate situation during last week's flooding event.
According to North Newton City Manager John Torline, Hesston asked North Newton to stop pumping to Hesston, which they did. When that happened, gravity took over and sewage started draining to the Newton system. Torline called Newton City Manager Bob Myers.
“We learned about this as they were doing it,” said Bob Myers, city manager for the city of Newton.
Newton city staff was ready, having a meter ready and waiting to track how much was coming from North Newton.
Now, according to city staff, the two cities are negotiating what that event will cost — or if North Newton can and will start paying an annual fee for access to the Newton sewer system.
“I am confident we can get an agreement,” Myers said.
In 2014, Newton agreed to accept an offer from $275,000, with the acknowledgment of $29,000 in payments, for unpaid sewer fees after a rate increase by the city of Newton. That represented the city of Newton accepting $103,000 less than they had billed.
Newton had not recalculated sewer fees for North Newton in two years, then hit North Newton with two rate increases at once.
North Newton then entered into a 2015 contract with Hesston for sewage treatment services and constructed a pipeline from North Newton to Hesston.
There is not a current contract between Newton and North Newton for sewer systems.