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Council tables utility rate changes, seeks public comment

Citizens in Bonney Lake will have a chance next week to give the city council their opinion on a proposed water rate decrease and sewer rate increase making their way to utility bills later this year.

The council tabled the two ordinances Tuesday night because of a proposed change from their discussions last week and a desire to get public opinion.

Initially, the council was to discuss a reduction in the summer sprinkling rates, but at the May 2 workshop, Mayor Neil Johnson proposed a simple $5 reduction in the base water rate, which would provide everyone in the city with savings, not just those who wouldn't be charged additional rates for watering their lawns during the summer.

The council seemed to be on board with the mayor's proposal, which would counter for most people a 10 percent increase in sewer rates necessary to bring the revenues for the utility inline with the operating costs.

But city officials worried about the loss of guaranteed revenue in the form of base rates countered with a proposal that reduces the base rate by $2.69 and adjusts consumption charges for summer months.

According to city documents, simply dropping the base rate by $5 would result in a loss of more than $774,000 in revenue, whereas the latest proposal only drops revenue by $345,790.

The change also comes in light of a first quarter report that shows water revenues down by almost 7 percent so far this year over the same period last year.

Johnson said he was still in favor of the %4 drop, but called the proposal from staff a "good solution" to balance things out.

Deputy Mayor Dan Swatman also said he supports the compromise position brought forward by staff, but since it is not a time sensitive matter, he felt further discussion was warranted and would like to get public comment on the issue.

The water rate decrease ordinance was tabled to Tuesday's workshop, as was the sewer rate increase, which the council felt should move forward with the water ordinance.

Public comment on both ordinances will be heard Tuesday. The Council's regular workshop meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. at the Justice Center.

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