Mike McGinn, Mayor
6/29/2012 12:00:00 PM
Andy Ryan, (206) 684-7688 Pager: (206) 997-5972 firstname.lastname@example.org
SPU Customer Service (206) 684-3000
Seattle Public Utilities submits drainage, sewer, solid waste rates plan
Drainage, sewer and garbage rates would increase by 3.8 percent a year
SEATTLE — Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) has submitted a rates plan for drainage, sewer and solid waste services, which would raise typical household utility charges an average of 3.8 percent a year over the next three years.
In the year 2016, under the plan sent to City Council this week, solid waste rates would increase by another 1.6 percent.
The proposed rates increases are needed to pay for major capital investments — such as building new solid waste transfer stations in South Park and Wallingford, and federally required upgrades to reduce chronic sewer overflows and stormwater pollution. Other key rate drivers include the added costs of operating the new investments and decreased revenues resulting from the economic downturn, as well as higher taxes and inflation.
In each of the next three years, the monthly cost of drainage, sewer and solid waste services for a typical Seattle home, would increase by an average of $4.17. In other words, typical monthly residential charges would go from $104.73 this year to $109.37 in 2013, $113.18 in 2014 and $117.25 in 2015.
For a downtown hotel, the average monthly increase each year would be $234 — that is, from $14,130 in 2012 to $14,431 in 2013, $14,637 in 2014 and $14,832 in 2015.
On June 18, the City Council approved a landmark agreement with federal and state regulators to clean up chronic overflows of raw sewage and stormwater into Seattle’s waterways. Over the next 13 years, SPU estimates it will spend about $500 million on construction projects — including retrofits, green infrastructure, and large underground storage tanks — to implement the proposed agreement.
The utility is also replacing its 50-year-old garbage transfer stations, which were built before Seattle introduced curbside recycling and composting and consequently had limited space for sorting recyclable and reuse materials. Last month, SPU dedicated a new state-of-the-art $50 million recycling, composting, and garbage disposal facility in South Park. The design of a second $52 million transfer station, in Wallingford, is scheduled to begin this summer.
“With the tough economy, many of our customers, both residents and businesses, continue to operate on tight budgets and understandably expect the same fiscal discipline from local government,” SPU Director Ray Hoffman said. “We are committed to keeping our rate proposal as low as possible, while maintaining our ability to deliver critical utility services.”
Hoffman noted SPU has made deep cuts in its budget over the past three years, including eliminating 85 positions and making significant reductions in capital spending, with an overall savings of $56.5 million. This year’s rates proposal would further deepen those reductions, eliminating up to 10 additional jobs (net) and postponing some flood control projects and other planned construction — at a savings of an additional $29 million over the three-year rate period.
The rates proposal will be discussed by the City Council over the next several months and will be finalized as part of the budget development process in the fall.
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In addition to providing a reliable water supply to more than 1.3 million customers in the Seattle metropolitan area, SPU provides essential sewer, drainage, solid waste and engineering services that safeguard public health, maintain the City's infrastructure and protect, conserve and enhance the region's environmental resources.