McCormick Woods Annexation Results in Utility Rate Hike

Port Orchard officials have delayed implementing a rate increase related to sewer system improvements.
By Chris Henry
Port Orchard residents will see an increase of $11 bimonthly in their sewer and water bill as a result of the recent McCormick Woods annexation.
The city council held a public hearing on the impending rate hike Tuesday, but no one testified.
Before becoming part of the city in July, McCormick Woods was subject to a 50 percent surcharge on sewer and water services, which are provided by the city. Now that the annexation is complete, the surcharge goes away, and the entire city — including McCormick Woods residents — must absorb the loss of revenue.
The city’s financial department has calculated it will cost an additional $3.50 for water and $7.50 for sewer bimonthly per household to make up the utility shortfall totaling an estimated $280,000 to $300,000 per year. The actual amount depends on consumption, according to City Treasurer Kris Tompkins.
City residents currently pay $72 every other month for sewer. That will increase to $79.30 every other month with the change.
The city has a two tier system for water, charging $15 every other month for consumption of less than 3,000 gallons per month and $19 for more than 3,000 per month. The city also has an overage charge for people who consume more than 5,000 per month. The new water rates will be $18.50 and $22.50 every other month for the two tiers.
The city’s water rates are low compared to other cities and utility districts in Kitsap County, Dorsey told the council. Port Orchard is the only utility provider in the county that does not have a commodity charge, he said. Users are charged only the flat rate per tier, not per gallon.
The city’s utility committee decided that now is not the time to institute a rate hike to finance the city’s capital improvement program for sewers. The city and Westsound Utility District jointly own the wastewater treatment plant on Beach Drive. Port Orchard, as part of its comprehensive plan for sewers, identified work that needs to be done on the system over the next several years.
The utility committee felt that adding an additional $11.20 bimonthly for sewer system improvements would put too much of a burden on residents, especially given the economy, Dorsey said. So the city will have to wait to fund those repairs and improvements, at least through 2009. The city will revisit how to fund sewer system improvements in 2010.
The city has also had to impose other utility rates and rate increases over the past couple years, another factor in the committee’s decision, Dorsey said.
There was a water rate increase in 2008, and at the beginning of this year, the city instituted a new stormwater utility, in compliance with state and federal regulations on water quality. The money will be used to prevent pollutants from making their way into Puget Sound through stormwater runoff. Cities and counties around the state have had to comply with the state law.

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