Arlington could skip utility rate increase

ARLINGTON — Residents and businesses in Arlington will likely get a pass on utility rate increases this year.

The Arlington Municipal Code calls for automatic rate increases for water, sewer and stormwater utilities each year, based on increases in the Consumer Price Index for the Seattle-Tacoma-Bremerton area.

This year, however, the city is recommending the planned increases be rescinded for 2014.

The City Council is expected to take up that recommendation at tonight’s meeting.

“We look at the fund every year when we’re budgeting,” Mayor Barbara Tolbert said. “If we don’t need the increase, we don’t take the increase,” she said.

One reason for the decision is that a new wastewater treatment plant, built four years ago with a combination of grants and low-interest loans, is turning out to be very efficient, Tolbert said.

Another reason is that the city is able to draw more drinking water from local wells, and isn’t having to buy as much from other agencies.

If the measure passes, residents and businesses will see no change in their utility rates this year.

The planned increase would have only been by $8-10 per month per customer, Tolbert said. But even that was proving to be unnecessary.

Currently, residential customers pay a flat $70.15 per month sewer rate. Businesses pay the same base rate plus a volume rate of $7.25 per 100 cubic feet per month.

Residents also pay a base $32.15 water rate plus a metered rate for volumes over 300 cubic feet. An average residence that consumes 4,900 gallons per month pays $42.44. Storm water rates are based on property size.

Industrial customers pay minimum rates dependent on the type and amount of waste discharged into the sewer system ranging from $429 to $1,715, plus varying rates based on volume or weight of the discharge.

Last year the city council rescinded water rate increases but allowed the stormwater and sewer charges to go up automatically. This year the decision was made to keep all three rates at last year’s level.

Chris Winters: 425-374-4165 or cwinters@heraldnet.com.

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