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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City Council mulls 10 percent water rate hike

August 2, 2011

Issaquah customers could start paying more for water by early next year.

The city is proposing 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.

The average residential customer should pay about $2.91 more per month, if the City Council approves the hike. Plans call for the increase to take effect starting with the December billing cycle.

The city last increased water rates in 2009. However, last year the city cut water rates and adopted a dollar-for-dollar utility tax in order to pay for municipal fire hydrants. The change came after a state Supreme Court decision regarding hydrants.

The proposal will be discussed by the Council Utilities, Environment & Technology Committee. The proposal is expected to return to the full council by mid-September.

Sammamish Plateau Water and Sewer District rates to increase

May 24, 2011

Rates for water and sewer service rise for some Issaquah residents June 1, as the Sammamish Plateau Water and Sewer District confronts a cool economy and increased costs.

The increase amounts to about 13 percent overall — or a $6.74 monthly hike for the average ratepayer.

The district encompasses North Issaquah neighborhoods, including Providence Point, and Klahanie in unincorporated King County. The district is in the process of annexing Issaquah’s Overdale Park neighborhood.

The district’s commissioners approved the rate increase in a 4-1 decision May 23, increasing water rates by 12.7 percent and sewer rates by 13.5 percent — the largest increase the district has made in at least five years.

District General Manager Jay Krauss and Finance Manager Angel Barton cited the down economy, sluggish construction market and increases in the costs of doing business for the 51-employee agency. High gas and electricity prices, as well as employee wages and benefits, also contribute to the rate hike.

Overall, the district serves more than 16,000 customers in Issaquah, Sammamish and unincorporated King County. Beyond the district, Issaquah provides water and sewer service to most city residents, although Bellevue handles the Greenwood Point area along Lake Sammamish.

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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

City Council adjusts certain water rates again

March 8, 2010

NEW — 6 a.m. Feb. 8, 2010

Weeks after Issaquah officials tweaked municipal water rates, the City Council adjusted certain rates again March 1 to correct a minor mistake.

In December, the council cut water rates and enacted a utility tax in what officials meant to be a revenue-neutral move to stave off legal challenges.

City employees realized the changes resulted in slight projected rate decreases — ranging from 11 cents to $6, depending on meter size — for commercial customers.

City Council members corrected the discrepancy after city staffers realized the December legislation included incorrect figures. The council approved the adjustment last week to avoid impacts to bills scheduled to be mailed to customers March 5 — the first bills mailed under the new rate structure.

The legislation passed without discussion in a unanimous vote during a 10-minute council meeting.

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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

City Council votes down property tax increase for 2009

November 11, 2008

In these tough economic times, the City Council feels your pain. On Nov. 3, council members decided to spare you more of it by declining to raise property taxes.

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No property tax increase for 2009

November 4, 2008

NEW — 11:39 a.m. Nov. 4, 2008

In these tough economic times, the City Council feels your pain. On Nov. 3, council members decided to spare you more of it by declining to raise property taxes.

During better economic conditions, the council routinely raises property taxes by 1 percent each year. But this year, council members unanimously reversed course, saying this is not the time to further squeeze the citizens.

That 1 percent is the maximum increase allowed by state law without a public vote. The amount of money it would raise is small —about $62,000 in 2009 — but over time, the revenue helps pay down the city’s debt, Deputy Finance Director Trisha Draycott told the council.

While that is helpful to the city, the council did not find it a compelling enough argument for a tax increase.

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