Marysville adjusts utility rates to encourage conservation

MARYSVILLE — Most people who live or work in Marysville will see a change in their water and sewer bills starting this month.

Some will pay less, others will pay more, according to the city.

The city recently approved a change in rates aimed at evening out inequities and encouraging conservation, public works director Kevin Nielsen said. The changes were approved late last month.

“What you use is what you pay,” Nielsen said.

The old system was partly use-based but few steps were built into the rate system. For instance, a commercial customer using 10,000 gallons in two months paid the same rate as one using 42,000 gallons, Nielsen said.

Now, for instance, someone using 6,000 gallons or less, residential or commercial, in two months will pay 98 cents per 1,000 gallons. Someone using between 6,000 and 20,000 gallons in two months will pay a little more than $3 per 1,000 gallons.

Nielsen said the changes came after the city studied its costs a couple of years ago. The changes is not supposed to change the amount of revenue utility fees bring to the city, he said.

“What we were collecting before is what we’re collecting afterward,” he said.

Commercial sewer rates are being adjusted to a more complex, precise formula based on a combination of volume and content, Nielsen said.

For some businesses that use a lot of water, it could mean a bigger hit.

Such is the case for Craig Wells, owner of the Marysville Laundry Station at 1048 State Ave. His sewer bill for discharging water in November and December was $374.47; if he uses the same amount of water in January and February it will come out to $623.30, he said.

“This is the worst time they could do something like that,” Wells said. Because of the economic downturn, he and his wife recently downsized from seven employees at two laundries (the other is in south Everett) to none. They’re each working seven days a week running the two outlets, he said.

Wells said he knows that the city is trying to iron out inequities in the system. “I understand their argument. I don’t agree with it,” he said. Wells said he believes it could hit restaurants hard as well.

Wells told city officials his laundries should be credited for water that isn’t discharged into the system, that comes out of the washers in wet clothes and evaporates in dryers. Nielsen said the city is considering an allowance for this factor.

Nielsen acknowledged that high-end users could face big increases. He said water rates will decrease for businesses on their first 1,000 gallons.

Most water customers will pay the same as they are now, he said: $2.45 per 1,000 gallons.

Residential sewer customers will continue to pay a flat rate, with an 8.5 percent increase spread out over the next two years: 4 percent this year, 4.5 percent in 2011.

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