ARLINGTON — The city is proposing to raise sewer service rates by $5 a month in order to help pay for the technological upgrade of Arlington’s wastewater treatment plant.
And future increases could add $20 a month to sewer bills within four years.
Residents in Arlington can attend public hearings Monday and March 15 to learn more about the rate increase.
The current monthly sewer rate is about $49 and the proposed monthly rate is about $54.
If the City Council approves the increase, the new rate would be effective April 15. The rate would then increase another $5 each year in 2011, 2012 and 2013.
Compared with other cities in Snohomish County, Arlington’s sewer rate is and would continue to be about in the middle. Marysville, Everett and Stanwood, for example, have cheaper rates, while Snohomish, Lake Stevens and Sultan have more expensive rates.
Making such a comparison doesn’t serve much purpose, said public works director James Kelly, because each city has its own system and costs.
He said that he knows this is a difficult time to make any increases in costs for families. But ratepayers are the last to be tapped to help pay for the improvements at the treatment plant, Kelly said.
“Knowing that many of our users are struggling in this current economy, the city has worked hard to keep rate increases to a minimum,” Kelly said. “It’s now time for the existing sewer customers to pay their fair, proportionate share of the treatment process upgrade.”
The city’s wastewater treatment plant reached 85 percent of its capacity in 2005, triggering requirements by state and federal governments to increase the plant’s capacity. In addition, a federally mandated cleanup plan for the Stillaguamish River required that the city upgrade its treatment technology as well, Kelly said.
The $42 million upgrade and expansion project at the plant is being funded primarily through state and federal low-interest loans, as well as sewer connection fees. With the slowdown in house construction, the number of new connections has dropped significantly, requiring the rate increase for existing users now, Kelly said.
Gale Fiege: 425-339-3427; firstname.lastname@example.org.
A public hearing on the proposed sewer rate increase is set for 7 p.m. Monday, Arlington City Council chambers, 110 E. Third St.
More info: 360-403-3526.