News

Sewer bill explained in volume

By Dennis Box

The Courier-Herald

You say a little and I say a lot.

That appeared to be the general sentiment at the Feb. 22 City Council meeting as Finance Director John Weidenfeller explained the city's new sewer billing rates.

The root of the problem appeared to be a new rate charge by volume for sewer rates.

"Volumetric charges look at water rate and apply it to sewer rates," Weidenfeller said. "What happened is we sent out a bill in January with volumetric rates and it shouldn't have been charged until March when we had a chance to read the meters."

Residents were hit with sticker shock when they opened their sewer bill and it was $20 or more higher.

Weidenfeller said the city sent out a letter to all sewer customers giving them credit for the incorrect bill.

"We posted the credit to everyone so the February bill will be low, but the March bill will be higher," Weidenfeller said.

According to the finance director, the basic sewer rate charge for 2005 will be $31.30 for single-family residents, which is $14 less than the 2004 basic rate of $45.30.

The hike comes with the volumetric charges added this year by the City Council.

A volumetric charge is based on water consumption. The amount of water used in two months is added to the resident's sewer bill.

The charge is $1.95 per ccf (or 100 cubic feet) and is capped at 10 ccf for residential customers. Multi-family is capped at 8 ccf and commercial is not capped.

The highest rate for a residential customer would be $19.50 for one month and $39 for two months.

Volumetric charges are billed bi-monthly. The bills will be mailed in March, May, July, September and November.

During peak usage a residential customer could see a bill of $101.60, which would include two months of the basic $31.30 rate and two months of the volumetric rate at $19.50.

"Volumetric charges are brand new to Bonney Lake," Weidenfeller said. "They are put in place to help conserve water."

Weidenfeller noted if customers conserve water their sewer rates could be less than 2004 by a few dollars.

It is expected by city officials most residential customers will not reach the cap of 10 ccf except during summer months when water usage spikes.

Dennis Box can be reached at dbox@courierherald.com.

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