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Council News Release

2/17/2009  4:10:00 PM
Nigel Herbig, Burgess Office, (206) 684-8806 Dana Robinson Slote, (206) 615-0061

Councilman Tim Burgess

City Councilman Tim Burgess Statement on the Water Rate Rebate and Temporary Surcharge

Today I joined six other city councilmembers in approving legislation that authorizes a temporary surcharge on water rates. The City Council voted to approve this temporary increase in order to pay nearly $21 million in rate payer refunds, attorney and plaintiff fees, and other costs stemming from a recent court ruling that found that the Citys practice, which had been in place since the 1890s, of paying for fire hydrants and their maintenance out of the Seattle Public Utilities budget, and not the General Fund, was improper.

Casting this vote was one of the most difficult decisions I have had to make since joining the City Council last year. Imposing even temporary rate increases could not have come at a more sensitive time as Seattle citizens grapple with a recessionary economy -- and as the City begins preparing for major budget cuts to address a shortfall that could be as high as $30 - $40 million stemming from losses in tax revenue. Unfortunately, the ruling is Lane v. City of Seattle left the City with no good choices: Either cut millions of additional dollars and numerous jobs and City services from an already challenged City budget, or temporarily raise rates to pay the costs.

After factoring in the refund, the temporary surcharge, which will be in effect from April 2009 through December 2010, will amount to 69 cents more per month for the typical residential rate payer. This seems a much more workable and humane solution than making even more cuts in City jobs and services that will need to be made this year.

Archives of previous meetings, news releases and copies of legislation are available on the Councils website at . Council meetings are cablecast live on Seattle Channel 21 and Webcast live at . Questions about Council news releases can be directed to Kimberly Reason, Council Communications, at 206-684-8159, or by e-mail at .


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