The City Council is given authority to set utility rates in State law. Council members must consider carefully all of the consequences of the cost to citizens to use the water and sewer systems as well as the City’s need to respond to the growth needs in the community. Most importantly, the City must meet debt service requirements on the bonds used to improve the treatment plant, or run the risk of defaulting which would allow bond-holders to actually set the rates. This could result in rates much higher than those set by the Council. Additionally, there are regulatory issues in the form of permits or requirements from the State or Federal governments. While raising utility rates is not the popular thing to do, the City Council only does so after a thorough examination of the needs and alternatives.
No mistake, but here’s the reason: You home is serviced by two City systems: the water system and the sewer system. Since the sewer system is actually more expensive to maintain than the water system, the sewer portion of the City utility bill will always be higher.
This is how the charges are figured: Currently, the base fee for water is $8.44 plus $2.04 for every 100 cubic feet of water used. The sewer base fee is $13.99 plus $3.28 for every 100 cubic feet of water used. That’s right your sewer is based on the amount of water used.
However, in the summertime, when people tend to do more outdoor watering, gardening, fill hot tubs, etc., the City changes its formula in figuring your bill. For example, if, during the rest of the year you keep your average to 1500 cubic feet of usage, then during the “summer sewer rate” period you use 2200 cubic feet, the City will charge you for 2200 cubic feet of water, but figure your sewer portion at 1500 cubic feet. So it really does pay to conserve!
The City offers an automatic payment plan for anyone interested in saving time and money. Using the plan is simple. Just contact City Hall and ask for the Authorization Form, fill it out and return with the requested documents. Call City Hall for more information at (360) 384-4269.
Adjustments are possible for single family residences. If the City suspects a water leak, customers are notified via a “Leak Notification Letter” and Application for an Adjustment, which needs to be sent back to City Hall. If the leak is fixed within 10 days of said letter, and if there have been no other leaks during the past twelve months, and adjustment will be made based on your winter average usage plus 30 cents per 100 cubic feet of the overage. Also, the usage must be at least 300 cubic feet over your average consumption. If the City did not notify you and you found the leak on your own, promptly contact the Utility Billing Department and requesting an Application for an Adjustment. City staff will review for a possible adjustment on your account.
One cubic foot equals 7.48 gallons, so for every 100 cubic feet of consumption, you will have used 748 gallons of water. To give you an idea of how the translates: If you were to run your water hose at high pressure for 70 minutes, you will have used about 100 cubic feet (748 gallons) of water.
Water usage varies from family to family, so comparing your bill with a neighbor’s is like comparing apples and oranges. Usage will depend on shower frequency, laundry loads per week, whether you have small children or teenagers, and many other factors. On average, a family of four will use 1600 to 2000 cubic feet of water in a two-month billing period.
Please call the Utility Billing Department at (360) 384-4269 or send us an email.