Port Angeles City Council to consider utility rate hikes Tuesday

By Jeremy Schwartz
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — The cost of weekly garbage and recyclables pickup could increase roughly $41 per year under one suite of proposed utility rate increases the Port Angeles City Council will consider Tuesday.

City Council members will consider two options for raising electric, garbage collection, stormwater and wastewater rates for both residents and businesses at their Tuesday evening meeting, which starts at 6 p.m. in the City Council chambers, 321 East Fifth St.

Council members will continue a public hearing on rate increases before they consider adoption of one of two rate change options presented to them.

One option, which city staff have recommended, would increase utility costs for 2013 by about 5.4 percent, or $12.19, per month for residents receiving weekly garbage pickup.

This same option would increase utility costs by 5.3 percent, or $11.89, per month for residents getting every-other-week garbage pickup.

The second route, which the city’s Utility Advisory Committee recommended at its Oct. 9 meeting, would increase utility costs by 6.4 percent, or $14.54, per month for weekly garbage pickup residents and 5 percent, or $11.09, per month for residents getting pickup service every other week.

The difference lies in the advisory committee’s recommendation to only increase garbage and recyclables pickup costs for residents receiving weekly service, not every-other-week service.

The committee separately considered three options for garbage collection increases presented by staff.

Committee members Max Mania, Murven Sears II and Sissi Bruch ultimately supported increasing only weekly rates, with members Paul Elliot and Dean Reed opposed.

The committee members did, however, unanimously support recommending the entire suite of rate increases to the City Council once the garbage collection rate issue was ironed out.

Under the advisory committee’s recommendation, residents getting weekly service would go from paying $27.20 per month for service to $30.65 per month, a 12.7 percent increase.

Residents getting every-other-week garbage service would continue to pay $19.75 per month under this recommendation.

City staff have recommended increases for both weekly and every-other-week service, with weekly costs going from $27.20 to $28.30, a 4 percent increase, and every-other-week costs going from $19.75 to $20.55, a 4.1 percent increase.

Both utility rate increase recommendations contain a $4.50-per-month increase in monthly wastewater charges for residential customers whose monthly water consumption exceeds 430 cubic feet per month.

This rate will go from $64.40 per month to $68.90, a 7 percent increase.

No increases have been proposed for water rates.

All other proposed increases in electricity, stormwater treatment and transfer station charges originally proposed by city staff have not changed rom earlier proposals.

Those increases are:

■   An average $3.59 monthly increase, up 3.8 percent, for electric rates, for an average bill of about $99.65 based on about 1,300 kilowatt hours used monthly.

■   A $3-per-month increase, up 50 percent, in 2013 for stormwater treatment.

■   A 7.2 percent increase per ton on transfer station charges for collection companies and self-haulers. Self-haulers would pay $141.95 per ton, up from $132.40, while collection companies would pay $116.10 per ton, up from $108.30.

The wastewater rate increases — which if approved will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2013, and expire June 30, 2015 — would pay for the city’s share of a harbor sediment cleanup study the state Department of Ecology has said must be done.

Ecology has named the city, Nippon Industries, Georgia Pacific, LLC, and the Port of Port Angeles as “potential liable parties” in the contamination of Port Angeles Harbor caused by flows of raw sewage and untreated stormwater, City Attorney Bill Bloor said at the Oct. 9 Utility Advisory Committee meeting.

Each of the parties will be expected to pay between $1 million and $1.5 million for the estimated two-year study, which will determine how best to clean contaminates from the harbor, Bloor said.

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Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at jschwartz@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: October 14. 2012 6:57PM
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