City Council’s water rate hike soaks taxpayers

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  • Monday, March 3, 2008 1:10pm

Government often gets accused of empire building, going beyond what is necessary and dipping into the taxpayers’ pockets to pay for the excess just because it can.

The depressing commonness of that scenario makes it one that rightfully resides near the top of the list of things to be guarded against.

But what happens when the opposite occurs? When government doesn’t pay enough attention? When it doesn’t respond and tells the community it serves, “Here’s the situation, we probably should do some work.”

Lynnwood residents are about to find out what happens in such a situation when they get their next utility bills.

After 14 years of no increases, Lynnwood users are in for six consecutive years of hikes in the fees they pay for water, sewer and stormwater services. Not just drippy faucet kinds of rate changes, the Lynnwood City Council recently approved the gushing broken-water main sort of increases.

For example, sewer rates will increase 17.5 percent this year, 17 percent in 2008, 8 percent in 2009, 6 percent in 2010 and 2 percent in both 2011 and 2012.

That city officials say the rates, even with the increases, will still be bobbing right along at the same levels as neighboring cities is little comfort. Taxpayers have an expectation of base levels of performance on certain services and water, sewer and stormwater are in that category. It’s kind of like a restaurant that advertises “good food.” So you were expecting bad?

No one likes taxes and fees to increase but everyone knows that prices generally go up and smaller, incremental hikes are less painful and more easily absorbed. It is a lesson Lynnwood officials, and voters, should remember.

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