Kennewick Irrigation District approves 3.5% rate increase

Kristi Pihl, Tri-City HeraldJanuary 21, 2014 

Kennewick Irrigation District customers will notice slightly higher bills this year.

The KID board of directors Tuesday unanimously approved assessments that include a 3.5 percent increase.

KID officials said they have been trying to absorb the growing cost of doing business without a rate increase.

However, officials have said they determined a modest increase will help cover the growing costs of labor, health insurance premiums, state pensions, electricity and insurance. The rates were unchanged for four years.

KID's operating budget for 2014 is $8.6 million, up about $200,000 from last year, said Colleen Storms, KID treasurer. The major source of revenue for the operating budget is assessments.

The assessments property owners are charged for operations and maintenance is about 3.5 percent higher than last year. That assessment is based on parcel size.

The increase ranges from about $1 to $16 a year, Storms said.

The assessment for parcels up to about an acre ranges between $21 and $300 for non-pressurized systems and $21 to $476 for pressurized systems, according to KID documents.

For more than an acre to 8 acres, they range is $342 to $481 for non-pressurized systems and $543 to $802 for pressurized systems. Parcels more than 8 acres are charged $82.80 per acre for non-pressurized systems and $103.50 per acre for pressurized systems.

The assessment for each parcel also includes $53.09 for capital projects, applicable U.S. Bureau of Reclamation construction loan payments and KID local improvement district payments. The capital project assessment amount is unchanged from last year, said Chuck Freeman, KID manager.

KID also will be shifting this year to charging individual parcels in areas where there are water overages, rather than the water master for the area, Storms said. It's a challenge since individual properties are not metered, but it will affect a small portion of the district which has to order water.

Customers can be charged for using more than the 3.5 acre-feet of water per acre they are allotted. About 11 invoices for excess water use will be sent to volunteer water masters to collect from their water users for water overages from last year, Storms said.

It's more equitable to distribute the charge across the service area that benefits from the extra water, Freeman said.

If the excess per property is significantly less than the cost of billing in the future, KID policy allows the district to waive billing, Storms said.

Director Patrick McGuire suggested adding an administration fee to cover the cost for billing excess water, but Storms said KID doesn't have a legal way to do that.

Also Tuesday:

-- Director Kirk Rathbun was unanimously chosen as KID's board president for the coming year. Gene Huffman, who served as board president in 2013, was unanimously chosen as board vice president.

Director David McKenzie thanked Huffman and McGuire, who was vice president last year, for their "impeccable" service on behalf of KID last year.

-- Rathbun, who was re-elected to second three-year term in December, and Dean Dennis, who was elected to his first three-term, took their oath of office as KID board members.

Dennis was appointed to the KID board, but lost the election for the remaining year to Penny Hermanson in December 2012. He defeated her in the December 2013 election.

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