Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Clear Night 31° Clear
News >  Spokane

Garbage, sewer bills to rise in ’11 in Spokane

City Council approves higher rates

Homeowners connected to Spokane’s sewer system will pay 17 percent more for service in 2011.

The Spokane City Council voted 4-3 on Monday in favor of the new rate.

The change means homeowners will pay $43.73 a month for wastewater service, up from $37.43.

The big increase had been expected for more than a year, since a 2009 study recommended double-digit rate hikes for several years to raise enough money to meet stringent water quality rules that require major sewer system improvements.

Even so, Mayor Mary Verner had recommended a slightly smaller 15 percent increase.

Council members who supported the change said they wanted a higher rate to generate extra utility taxes, which support the police, fire, park and other city departments, because earlier in the evening the council decided against raising water prices.

The proposed city budget had included an increased water rate and the extra utility taxes that would have generated.

The city collects a 20 percent tax on utility bills, among the highest rates in the state and the second largest source of the city’s tax revenue, just below property taxes.

The council voted 5-2 to keep water rates steady. Verner had asked the council to approve a 3.75 percent increase. But most council members said they didn’t want to add an increase on top of a rate structure change that the council approved earlier this year. That earlier change means people who use more water will pay more; people who use less will pay less.

The council also voted 5-2 to raise garbage rates by 1.5 percent.

Last week, Verner had criticized the council’s decision to change proposed rates. But the 5-2 vote on water means she won’t be able to veto the new water rate. The 4-3 vote on wastewater, however, is close enough that she will have the power to veto it.

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Active Person

Subscribe now to get breaking news alerts in your email inbox

Get breaking news delivered to your inbox as it happens.