Bellevue utility tax hits some Issaquah residents

February 7, 2012

Bellevue officials decided Jan. 23 to impose a utility tax on water customers in Greenwood Point and South Cove — Issaquah neighborhoods served by the Bellevue municipal water system.

Bellevue City Council members approved extending a utility occupation tax to the water utility’s revenue, including for customers beyond Bellevue. Starting March 1, customers should start to see a 10.4 percent increase on water bills. The change does not affect customers in Bellevue.

Officials intend to use the additional dollars for fire hydrants, oversized pipes and reservoir storage.

The decision followed a 2008 state Supreme Court ruling related to how cities pay for municipal fire hydrants. The ruling in Lane v. Seattle identified hydrants as a general government service and not a utility.

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City Council hikes water rate 9 percent to offset conservation-related decline

November 15, 2011

Issaquah customers should start paying more for water soon, after city leaders increased rates to offset conservation-related declines in usage.

In a unanimous decision Nov. 7, City Council members OK’d a 9 percent increase in the municipal water rate. The average residential customer should pay about $3 more per month after the updated water rate goes into effect Dec. 1.

“What we end up paying and the revenues that the city brings in are due to reductions in revenue and usage,” Councilman Joshua Schaer said before the decision. “I find it interestingly perverse that the more we conserve, the more we have to pay.”

The council, although reluctant to increase the rate, said the increase is essential to shore up funding for the municipal water utility. The city provides water to more than 6,500 businesses and homes.

“This will keep our water fund — maybe not as healthy as it could be — but certainly from dipping below zero,” Schaer said.

Officials initially proposed a 10 percent rate increase to replace aging pump stations and water mains, address increased operating costs related to increased charges from Cascade Water Alliance and provide debt service coverage required in bond agreements. Council Utilities, Technology & Environment Committee members reduced the proposed increase to 9 percent.

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Council adjusts unintended hike to water rates

March 9, 2010

Weeks after Issaquah officials tweaked municipal water rates, the City Council adjusted certain rates again last week to correct a minor mistake. Read more

Dollar-for-dollar water rate cut, tax hike OK’d

December 29, 2009

City Council members cut the municipal water rate and added a utility tax last week — a move meant to be cost-neutral to customers. Read more

City Council OKs dollar-for-dollar water rate cut, tax hike

December 27, 2009

NEW — 6 a.m. Dec. 27, 2009

City Council members cut the municipal water rate and added a utility tax Monday night — a move meant to be cost-neutral to customers.

The decision followed a 2008 state Supreme Court ruling related to how cities pay for municipal fire hydrants. The court ruling — Lane v. Seattle — said hydrants are a general government service, and cannot be paid for as a utility.

The city collects $129,000 through water rates to pay for municipal fire hydrants. Since the court ruled, municipal officials across the state have searched for ways to remove fire-protection costs from utility rates.

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City plans dollar-for-dollar water rate cut, tax hike

December 15, 2009

A state Supreme Court ruling will change the way Issaquah and other Washington cities pay for fire hydrants. Read more