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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Utility rates increasing in city of Spokane

UPDATED: Mon., Nov. 30, 2020

Small materials, mostly paper and glass, that haven’t been removed by other processes bounce down a shaker table as a last ditch way to separate them before they end up in the garbage. Comingled recycling products go through an elaborate system of automated machines and human pickers to separate them into their respective bins.  (Jesse Tinsley/The Spokesman-Review)
Small materials, mostly paper and glass, that haven’t been removed by other processes bounce down a shaker table as a last ditch way to separate them before they end up in the garbage. Comingled recycling products go through an elaborate system of automated machines and human pickers to separate them into their respective bins. (Jesse Tinsley/The Spokesman-Review)

The Spokane City Council signed off Monday on a 2.9% increase in the wastewater and sewer fees it charges property owners on Monday, capping off a series of increases in utility rates.

With Monday’s action, the city has now planned increases of 2.9% for wastewater and sewer fees, water rates, and solid waste hauling for the next three years beginning in 2021.

The council approved the rate increases in several votes taken in recent weeks.

Mayor Nadine Woodward’s administration held utility rate increases even with the 2.9% approved from 2018 to 2020 under the administration of former Mayor David Condon, who pledged to limit increases to no more than the rate of inflation.

Despite increases, officials say Spokane’s utility rates will remain comparable to those in neighboring communities.

For a typical residential utility customer, who uses a 68-gallon garbage cart and consumes 15,000 gallons of water per month, the average monthly utility bill will increase from $131.39 to $133.07 in 2021.

The cost of the 68-gallon solid waste cart will increase from $32.78 to $33.73 in 2021.

The city is taking an inherent risk in setting its utility rates for the next three years, a system meant to provide consumers with some stability. It’s already taken a hit in utility revenues due to the COVID-19 economic downtown.

“We don’t know how long that will last,” Public Works Director Scott Simmons told the council earlier this month.

In an effort to conserve water, the council also approved a plan for increased water rates that create a new, higher price tier for residents who consume more 4,500 cubic feet of water in a month.

The city will also implement a $2 fee for residents who self-haul trash to the city’s Waste-to-Energy facility. The fee is expected to generate about $250,000 of annual revenue.

The city requires residents to at least sign up for curbside solid waste hauling, even if they don’t use it.

“The transaction fee, we feel, will help encourage a greater use of the curbside service,” Simmons said.

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