City Council Approves New Water Rates; General Facilities Charges to Improve, Upgrade Water System

On May 18, 2021, the North Bend City Council unanimously approved new water rates and General Facilities Charges (GFCs) for 2022-2026.

The approved annual 5.5% rate increase and new GFCs for water connections will help fund normal operations, maintenance and planned capital improvements to the City’s water system. The increases were determined by a Water Rate Study completed by FCS Group; a firm contracted with the City.

A general facilities charge (GFC) is a connection charge paid by a property owner/developer to connect to the City’s utility systems and includes not only the physical connection but the equitable share of the cost of such a system.  GFC’s ensure the City is responsibly charging for development. Since January 1, 2014, the City has increased its Water System GFC by approximately 33%.

By law, the City’s water utility must be self-sufficient, with customer rates and GFCs as the sole revenue sources. It is estimated that most of the anticipated capital improvements will be funded by GFCs, maintaining the Council’s policy of growth paying for growth.

The City plans to issue low-interest bonds to fund approximately $23.5 million of anticipated capital water system improvements, including the replacement of several miles of aging asbestos concrete water main pipes in older neighborhoods, ongoing water meter replacements, and mitigation water projects.

Councilmembers recognize that the increases are difficult but acknowledge they are necessary as the City’s water system improvements were deferred too often in the past, and it is critical to fix and upgrade water infrastructure to safely serve customers and protect the environment.

The planned improvements funded by the approved increases will enhance customer reliability, ensure safe drinking water quality, decrease distribution system leakage, as well as increase and diversify mitigation sources to meet requirements of the City’s Centennial Well Water Right and protect the Snoqualmie River.

The new water rates and GFCs go into effect on January 1, 2022.

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