Marlene Feist

City Considering Utility Rates for 2018-2020

Marlene Feist, Utilities Director of Strategic Development, 509.625.6505

Tuesday, July 18, 2017 at 2:53 p.m.

The City is considering utility rates proposals for the next three years that are designed to provide customers with predictable, affordable rates for their water, wastewater, and solid waste services.

The proposals adhere to a commitment that the City's elected officials made back in 2014—to hold the line on rates limiting them to 2.9 percent annual increases. The goal is to give utility customers value for their dollar, providing excellent services at a reasonable price.

Promoting affordability for all is one strategy of the rate proposals. Here are some more:

  • A new $10 monthly credit program to help some of our most vulnerable citizens—low-income seniors and disabled individuals who qualify for state property tax exemptions.
  • Investments in neighborhoods, including additional community cleanups and litter control and for grading of unpaved streets and alleys that are used to deliver solid waste services.
  • Continuation of projects to improve the health of the Spokane River, including major upgrades at the Riverside Park Water Reclamation Facility and construction to manage overflows from combined wastewater and stormwater sewers.

For 2018, a typical residential customer's City monthly utility bill would increase by $3.47 a month, with similar increases for 2019 and 2020. The chart below includes a closer look at the components of that typical bill, which includes 15,000 gallons of water use and a 68-gallon garbage cart. The water-wastewater capital charge pays for capital infrastructure projects in areas of water, wastewater and stormwater.

Proposed Typical Monthly Utility Bill - In-City Residential Customer

Service Base Charge Consumption Capital Totals
68-gallon Garbage Cart $30.96 $30.96
Wastewater $30.57 $30.57
Water $16.26 $13.30* $29.56
Stormwater $4.30 $4.30
Water/Wastewater Capital $28.70 $28.70
2018 TOTAL $124.09
2019 TOTAL $127.69
2020 TOTAL $131.39

*Assumes 15,000 gallons of water usage.

Commercial and business customers will see the same 2.9 percent increase, but their bills are structured somewhat differently, based on the size of their water service line and other factors.

The Council will consider these rate proposals at their regular meeting on July 31 at 6 p.m. in the lower level of City Hall. Citizens are encouraged to provide their feedback on the rates and related proposals. The new rates would take effect on January 1 of each year.

In the last five years, the City has worked in other ways to make bills more affordable and predictable for customers. The City:

  • Changed its water rate structure in 2012, eliminating particularly high summer watering bills for many residents.
  • Began billing customers for water use every month from every other month, allowing customers to more effectively budget for their city utility costs.
  • Added a new wastewater bill discount for customers who use less water. The lowest 20 percent of residential water users now receive an annual $60 credit, and additional discounts for multi-family residences have been added.
  • Increased the amount of annual assistance through its U-Help program, which provides low-income households with one-time, annual emergency assistance to help pay for their City utility bills.
  • Implemented single-stream recycling, which has allowed many solid waste customers to recycle more and downsize their garbage cart. A smaller cart costs less each month.

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