Seattle Public Utilities rates are projected to increase under a new six-year plan approved by the City Council.
The Seattle City Council on Monday approved a new plan for Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) to raise its rates over six years by an annual average of 5.2 percent.
The six-year plan calls for the typical monthly utilities cost for a house to climb from $181 this year to $248 in 2023 and for the typical cost for an apartment to grow from $107 to $142.
That’s for water, wastewater, solid waste (billed every other month) and drainage (paid through property taxes).
The projected rate increases are slightly less than they were earlier this year, when Councilmember Lisa Herbold’s utilities committee first discussed the plan.
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The committee made changes to the plan to reduce the hikes from an annual average of 5.5 percent to an annual average of 5.2 percent.
For instance, SPU will take some pressure off ratepayers by boosting the water-tap fees and water-connection charges that builders pay.
The council is asking SPU to find operational savings next year that can lower the annual average increase further, to 5.1 percent.
SPU customers are accustomed to rate hikes, having seen the typical per-month cost for a house nearly double from $80.09 in 2004 to $156.00 in 2014.
SPU says it needs the money to replace aging pipes, prevent sewage from spilling into the Lake Washington Ship Canal and keep up with rising employee and construction costs, among other things.
The rate increases also will help pay for work related to transportation projects. When voters approved the $930 million Move Seattle transportation levy in 2015, most weren’t aware the measure would put ratepayers on the hook for an additional estimated $201 million in SPU spending.
The resolution passed by the council Monday directs SPU to study the possibility of providing discounts to ratepayers living on fixed incomes and to develop a plan to start charging sewer- and drainage-connection charges.
Unlike other utilities in the area, SPU doesn’t impose charges when new buildings connect to its sewer and drainage systems.
In response to a concern raised by SPU’s Customer Review Panel, the legislation instructs SPU to start telling customers on their bills what portion of their money will be used to pay utility taxes.