That extra sprinkler time for a greener lawn may cost a bit more next summer. And the next summer. And the next.
Spokane’s water, trash and sewage rates will go up starting Jan. 1, year five of Mayor David Condon’s plan to consistently raise rates year by year to pay for the city’s massive infrastructure construction projects.
A typical user’s monthly bill, with a 68-gallon trash bin and use of 15,000 gallons of water, would increase by $3.47, to nearly $120 a month.
If approved by the City Council, utility bills will increase by 2.9 percent, holding to a pledge Condon made in 2012 to hold rate bumps to inflation. The council will consider putting the same annual rate increase in place through 2020.
Spokane is in the midst of building a new system to stop sewage from dumping into the river, and replacing aging water mains and lead pipes around town. Marlene Feist, director of strategic development for the public works and utilities department, said the wastewater department has $340 million in projects, nearly all of which are under construction.
“We’re still in the thick of them,” Feist said, noting the familiar orange traffic cones that dot downtown.
The consistent rate increase is tied to the city’s 25-year estimate of average inflation.
“How can we do all this work, get it done and still provide reasonable and predictable rates for citizens,” Feist said.
The city will also continue its assistance programs, which help low-income people and households that use less water.
Condon first won approval for his rate plan beginning in 2014. Previous to his tenure, the city had scheduled high rate increases with no debt. Under the current plan, the city has taken on debt to keep rate increases at 2.9 percent.
Council President Ben Stuckart said the process to set rates at inflationary rates was a “collaborative process” between the City Council and administration. He noted that the rate increases will go toward paying off $200 million in bond debt the city incurred three years ago.
“We’re making massive capital investments while paying back that debt,” Stuckart said.
The City Council will consider the rate increases on July 31.
Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter
Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.