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Decision delayed on new sewer rates

Spokane County will wait at least two more weeks to decide how much to raise sewer rates.

After a lightly attended public hearing Tuesday night, county commissioners gave the public until June 30 to send in written comments and put off a decision until July 7.

In the meantime, they’ll be reviewing options for selling bonds for the new $148 million treatment plant already under way and trying to reach an agreement with the city of Spokane Valley to treat its sewage. Estimates from a month ago showed a 25-year bond issue could lower residential rates by $2 a month compared with a 20-year bond, but cost an extra $47 million over the life of the bonds, commission Chairman Todd Mielke said.

The county is also negotiating an agreement with Spokane Valley that shows the city’s support for the project and the county’s guarantee of service and would create an advisory committee on rates. The two governments agree on the concepts, Mielke said.

Spokane Valley Mayor Rich Munson said the city and county are still discussing some aspects of the pact, such as the agreement not to use any other source of wastewater treatment for the life of the bonds. Valley officials have discussed the possibility of using the city of Spokane’s treatment facility but believes that option “is not a good one.”

“I don’t anticipate problems. I do anticipate discussions,” Munson said.