[This article has been updated. The 4-year percentage increase (30%) was incorrect in the original article. The increase is 42%]
The City of Snoqualmie said via press release that following a comprehensive utility rate study, its Parks & Public Works Department determined that utility rate increases and new connection charges are needed to keep the water, sewer and stormwater utility systems operating reliably to meet the needs of Snoqualmie’s current population and future growth, well as continue to meet regulatory requirements under state and federal environmental laws.
The city stated the increase would provide “revenue to operate water, sewer and stormwater infrastructure; operate and maintain the water and wastewater treatment facilities; and inspect and maintain critical equipment. Rate revenue also covers the cost to recycle valuable resources from the City’s wastewater process, including providing reclaimed water for irrigation. The connection charge revenue would go towards new facilities and system upgrades.
According to the utility rate presentation given at the January 23rd city council meeting, the increase for a single-family home would be about 42% over four years. The largest increase would impact ‘high’ commercial businesses (i.e. repair shops, service stations, hospitals with dining facilities, laundry, restaurants, hotels and dining facilities, breweries) because higher concentrated sewer flows are more expensive to treat. The recommended ‘high’ commercial sewer rate would double four years. over
The last the city raised utility rates was in 2014 when a three-year, 26% increase was approved.
Increases, new Charges for Future Growth
The utility presentation also recommended an increase for the cost of a new water connection (3/4″ meter) would more than double and a new facilities charge on both water and sewer connections totaling $20,000 for a new residential home. According to the presentation, the proposed connection charges would be waived for the Snoqualmie Ridge Planning area. Home build out on the Ridge is expected to finish in 2017.
Utilities Separate Enterprise Fund
According to City of Snoqualmie Chief Finance Officer Nicolas Lee, state law mandates city utilities operate as a separate enterprise fund and budget, basically paying for themselves. Lee said the city strives for a sustainable rate structure that also includes planning, being proactive for future infrastructure needs. He said today’s rates help keep some things “up to speed” and also help fund upgrades needed for the coming decades.
Two meetings are scheduled to present the study findings to businesses and residents and answer questions. Those meetings will take place at Snoqualmie City Hall, 38624 SE River St in downtown Snoqualmie.
On Thursday, February 2nd at 1:30PM, information about commercial rates and new connection charges will be presented and discussed with property and business owners. Later the same day at 6:30PM, residential rates and connection charge info will be discussed, as well as a brief summary of commercial rates.
The city is encouraging residents, property owners, and business owners are encouraged to attend one or both meetings.
There will be a public hearing about the potential rate increases and new connection charges at the City Council meeting on February 13, 2017 at 7PM. An ordinance will be considered for adoption at the City Council meeting on February 27th. If adopted on February 27th, new utility rates will be effective March 1st, 2017.