News

Utility rates increase slightly

Utility rates are projected to increase over the next six years, although at a slightly lower rate than the 10-year average.

The Utility Board will forward a recommendation of a 3.3 percent increase in storm water rates through 2016, which will add about .97 cents to the average residential customer’s bimonthly bill.

For sewer, the board will recommend a 9.75 percent increase in 2011 (an addition of $1.77 per bimonthly bill), 8.3 percent increase from 2012 through 2014 (an addition of about $6.31), a 3.35 percent increase in 2015 (an addition of $3.13) and a 3.83 increase in 2016 (an addition of $3.24).

The board’s recommendations fall below the average 10-year rate increase of 5.44 percent for storm water and 10.75 percent for sewer, according to city documents.

“With rates, our goal is basically to break even,” Deputy Finance Director Francie Lake said at a recent Utility Board meeting.

The sewer utility rates are driven by the level of capital reinvestment proposed for 2014 through 2016, according to a Utility Board memo.

Maintenance Director Glenn Boettcher reminded the board that the rates reflect the city’s need to “pay the debt service on the sewer lake line.”

Finance Director Chip Corder added that he has warned the Council of a healthy sewer rate increase through 2016.

“They’ve been prepped for two years to expect this,” he said.

On a positive note, the city may be eligible for funding though King County’s Flood Control District, which was approved by voters in 2008. Boettcher recently submitted an application for a utility project on the Island.

Because Mercer Island doesn’t have a flooding problem, King County allocated this money to utility projects, he said, adding that the funding would further help to offset storm water rates.

“We’ve all worked very hard to keep these numbers low,” he said.

For more information on city utility rates, go to www.mercergov.org.

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