Kennewick water and sewer rates are some of the lowest in the region, but they could begin a long march upward in January under a rate plan heading to the city council.
The council reviewed a rate plan in a study by FCS Group, the consultant hired to evaluate rates and the city’s revenue needs, when it met for a study session Sept. 28.
It plans a public hearing on the proposed hikes when it meets Oct. 18. It could vote to adopt them at that time.
The move would raise rates and index them to inflation over the next 20 years and generate more than $1 million in new revenue for the city annually.
The increases would support capital projects, reinforce system reserves and address the city’s growing population.
Cary Roe, Kennewick’s public works director, said the city is sensitive to raising rates, but notes Kennewick’s rates are the lowest in the region. The FCS review was the first in 20 years and identified the resources the city needs to maintain a reliable water and sewer system.
“We want to keep our rates as low and competitive as possible while maintaining the infrastructure and customer service levels,” he said.
We want to keep our rates as low and competitive as possible while maintaining the infrastructure and customer service levels.
Cary Roe, Kennewick public works director
For water rates, the city is considering annual rate increases of 5.15 percent, beginning in 2017.
In the first year, the change would cost the typical residential customer $2.26 on a bimonthly water bill, raising it to $46.14.
By comparison, the comparable rate for Pasco is $48.92 and for Richland is $73.50.
For sewer, the city is proposing 7.4 percent annual increases.
For the typical residential sewer bill, the impact would be $3.14 every other month, for a bimonthly bill of $45.57.
By comparison, comparable sewer rates for Pasco are $54.44 and for Richland are $51.20.
The increases would boost water revenue by about $500,000 in the first year to $10.3 million, and sewer revenue by $580,000 in the first year to $8.4 million.
Roe said the city plans to discuss next year the cost of connecting new customers to the system.
Kennewick charges $300 for new water connections and $800 for new sewer connections. By law, it may collect up to $5,615 to join the water system and $6,361 to connect to the sewer system.
The city hasn’t taken a position on what the amount should be, but will take up the issue in 2017, he said.