Executive Dow Constantine recommends against sewer rate hike
April 25, 2011
NEW — 8 a.m. April 25, 2011
King County Executive Dow Constantine called for keeping monthly sewer rates stable for 2012 under a proposal sent to the County Council last week.
“In these difficult economic times, it makes sense to keep the rate flat,” he said in a statement. “This proposal will allow us to maintain critical infrastructure, support economic growth and promote environmental health without undue burden to ratepayers.”
Constantine called for customers served by the county’s clean-water utility to continue to pay the current wholesale rate of $36.10 per month. The rate covers the cost to collect and treat wastewater from 34 local sewer utilities, including Issaquah.
Issaquah collects wastewater from more than 4,800 residences and businesses. The city does not operate a treatment plant. Instead, the city pays the county to send wastewater to the South Treatment Plant in Renton.
The county adopted the existing sewer rate last year in order to pay the long-term bonds used to finance Brightwater, a $1.8 billion treatment plant under construction near Woodinville.
Under Constantine’s proposal, the capacity charge for new sewer hookups is due to increase by 3 percent as planned, from $50.45 per month in 2011 to $51.95 per month next year. The capacity charge on new customers provides funding for system upgrades and expansions needed to accommodate growth.
The proposed sewer rate is meant to ensure the continued ability of the county Wastewater Treatment Division to safeguard public and environmental health, meet regulatory requirements, and protect strong credit ratings to help keep down the cost of planned borrowing needed to fund capital improvements.
Constantine’s rate proposal directs the Wastewater Treatment Division to commit to future operating efficiencies of more than $4.7 million between 2012 and 2014 to further manage rates, following several years of heavy borrowing to fund the construction of the nearly completed Brightwater project.