City Council sinks property tax increase, prepares budget

November 13, 2012

City Council members decided Nov. 5 against a property tax increase for next year, and edged the 2013 municipal budget closer to adoption.

In a unanimous decision, council members rejected a proposal to increase the property tax rate by 1 percent next year. The council is expected to finalize the decision on property tax revenue for next year at a Nov. 19 meeting.

In October, Mayor Ava Frisinger proposed to raise the property tax rate by the maximum amount allowed under state law, or 1 percent, next year. Officials said the measure could raise $69,707 for the city next year and then compound over time. The city estimated the cost to the average homeowner at $4.75 per year.

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City considers overseeing water, sewer service for all Issaquah residents

June 26, 2012

City and Sammamish Plateau Water and Sewer District officials could end up at loggerheads as the city embarks on a study to assume water and sewer service for the portion of district customers inside Issaquah city limits.

Issaquah officials budgeted $300,000 to study expanded utility service for the entire city. State law encourages municipalities to assume utility services in neighborhoods located inside city limits.

City officials said such a changeover could reduce confusion among customers and enable municipal government to better manage the water and sewer system inside city limits.

Such a change could lead to a showdown between the city and the Sammamish Plateau Water and Sewer District, because the district is bound to shed hundreds of ratepayers if the city expands water and sewer service to all Issaquah residents.

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King County increases 2013 sewer rate

June 19, 2012

King County Council members hiked the sewer rate for 2013 to $39.79 a month per residential customer.

The rate increase approved by the council June 11 is less than the $39.85 rate King County Executive Dow Constantine proposed in April. Officials intend to keep the same rate in 2014.

The county charges the rate to 34 cities and sewer districts, including Issaquah and the Sammamish Plateau Water and Sewer District, to carry and treat wastewater. The amount ratepayers see on bills depends on local sewer utilities. Jurisdictions set rates independently, but typically pass along such costs to customers.

Officials focused on reduced operating costs in announcing the rate increase. Read more

King County Council increases 2013 sewer rate

June 11, 2012

NEW — 4 p.m. June 11, 2012

King County Council members hiked the sewer rate for 2013 to $39.79 a month per residential customer.

The rate increase approved by the council Monday is less than the $39.85 rate King County Executive Dow Constantine proposed in April. Officials intend to keep the same rate in 2014.

The county charges the rate to 34 cities and sewer districts, including Issaquah and the Sammamish Plateau Water and Sewer District, to carry and treat wastewater. The amount ratepayers see on bills depends on local sewer utilities. Jurisdictions set rates independently, but typically pass along such costs to customers.

Officials focused on reduced operating costs in announcing the rate increase.

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Overdale Park residents face steep fee to resolve water problems

April 17, 2012

Overdale Park homeowners could pay about $15,000 per household to change water utility providers — a transition meant to eliminate years-old concerns about arsenic contamination and fire protection.

The hillside neighborhood near the former Albertsons store in North Issaquah is involved in a process to integrate into the Sammamish Plateau Water and Sewer District. The next step is to create a special district for Overdale homeowners to fund $1.1 million in improvements to the aging water infrastructure in the neighborhood.

The decisions to shift Overdale into the district and upgrade infrastructure came after officials discovered arsenic contamination in a well near East Lake Sammamish Parkway. The other Overdale well could no longer meet residents’ demand after decades of use. The neighborhood includes about 140 residences.

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Press Editorial

April 3, 2012

Revised water rates reject values

The Sammamish Plateau Water and Sewer District’s new rate structure has taken a giant step backward.

Previously, the rates had been set up so that those who use the most water pay a higher rate. Now the tiers in the rate structure have been flattened — meaning a roughly 6 percent cut in water bills to those who use the most.

Swimming pool or hot tub? Farm animals to feed? No problem, no surcharge for extra water. Same rate for everybody — in fact, please use more!

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Some Issaquah customers could pay more for water, sewer

March 27, 2012

Overhauling the rate structure for the Sammamish Plateau Water and Sewer District could help stabilize the revenues from year to year at the expense of lowering the financial incentive for water conservation.

The revised rate structure could mean a 17.1 percent hike for sewer service and 8.6 percent increase in the cost of water for the average single-family home. The increased rates could help make up a more than $2.3 million deficit in the district budget.

The district is investing in updated pipes, pumps and other infrastructure to accommodate growth, but revenue is falling due to lower water consumption by customers.

The average home in the district uses about 1,400 cubic feet of water in a two-month period and could pay a water bill of $68.98 under the overhauled rate structure — up from $63.50 under current rates. The rise in sewer could be more drastic, from $42.96 every two months for the average homeowner to $50.34 for the same period.

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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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Bellevue imposes utility tax on some Issaquah water customers

January 30, 2012

NEW — 6 a.m. Jan. 30, 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 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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Sammamish Plateau Water and Sewer District officials consider water rate hike

December 13, 2011

Less than a month after the City Council raised water rates for most Issaquah customers, the Sammamish Plateau Water and Sewer District is considering a hike next year to offset losses related to the cool, soggy summer.

District officials blame the weather, in part, for water revenues coming in about 8 percent below budget in 2011. The cloud cover and moderate temperatures meant fewer people watered lawns — resulting in lower water consumption and less money for the district.

The district encompasses North Issaquah neighborhoods, including Providence Point, and Klahanie in unincorporated King County.

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