December 11, 2010 in Washington Voices

Water and sewer rates to rise 18 percent Jan. 1

Valerie Putnam vrputnam@yahoo.com
 

Beginning Jan. 1, Millwood residents will pay more for their water and sewer services. During Monday night’s meeting, the City Council approved an 18 percent rate increase for these services.

The combined increase for both sewer and water equals $8.50 per month per household.  This is the first increase since 1995, when the city increased the rates by a dollar.

 The council approved the increase to shore up the sewer and water funds currently operating in a deficit, as well as account for the rising costs of water and sewer equipment and maintenance.

Millwood issued bonds in 2003 to finance the water and sewer systems completed in the early ’90s.  The state requires the city to hold significant cash reserves in each fund until the bond debt is paid in 2015.

At the November council meeting, city treasurer Debbie Matkin explained how inflation depleted the reserves over the last few years, leaving a $191,000 deficit.

The council unanimously approved the 2011 budget which includes an amendment allocating projected revenue from liquor store sales toward proposed traffic calming measures on South Riverway and Bridgeport Avenue.

 City Planner Tom Richardson explained that the failures of initiatives 1100 and 1105 provide the city an estimated $9,400 of additional revenue. 

Earlier this fall the council approved installing four speed humps, two on South Riverway and Bridgeport, along with a raised intersection at Empire Avenue and Fowler Road.  The asphalt speed humps cost an estimated $2,500 each. The raised intersection at Fowler and Empire is an estimated $8,000.

Additional planned proposed traffic calming measures on the Fowler/Empire intersection are on hold due to a decline in projected revenue for next year.

Richardson said he is working to secure additional funding by applying for federal grants.

In other business, maintenance supervisor Cleve McCoul reported meeting with Spokane County regarding a sewer smell reported by eight city residents on the 10000 block of Empire Way.

“We cannot go outside without thinking we are living next to an outhouse,” Jim Youngman, who lives on Empire Way, said during McCoul’s report.  “No picnics, no family.”

Youngman says he noticed the smell two years ago after the county hooked up sewer at the intersection of Butler Road and Empire, and that the smell has been getting progressively worse.

According to McCoul, the county is testing the area to determine where the smell is originating.

Councilman Kevin Freeman asked McCoul to request the county to video tape the line and see if there is a break.

During the planning report, Richardson reported that Spokane County’s small project permit fees would increase significantly. Richardson said he is seeking alternatives, and plans to talk to Cheney about their fee system. Freeman suggested looking into permitting through Spokane Valley.

When the council discussed renewing its $8,700 animal control contract with Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Services, Freeman questioned why SCRAPS receives half of the city’s monthly license fees.

“We’re responsible for 1.07 percent of their budget,” Freeman said. “Why not pay them the 1.07 percent of the budget and just deal with the license fees here.”

The issue was tabled to discuss the matter further with SCRAPS. 


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