Mayor Condon Rolls Out New 2012 Water Rates - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Condon Proposes New 2012 Water Rates

OFFICIAL RELEASE FROM THE CITY OF SPOKANE: On Thursday Spokane Mayor David Condon proposed new water rates for 2012 that will reduce high summer watering bills and provide water customers with more predictable monthly expenses.

"We're are using the rate structure from 2010 as a base and making changes to cover inflation since that time," says Mayor Condon. 

Throughout the community, citizens expressed frustration as a result of 2011 revisions to the City's water rate structure.  As part of his 100-Day Action Plan, Mayor Condon promised to propose revised water rates that would be more understandable and predictable for customers. 

The proposed changes are for the current year and are just the first step.   The Mayor has directed City staff to develop a plan over the next 90 days to produce more affordable and predictable rates for all the City's utilities—water, sewer, and garbage—for 2013 and beyond.

Affordability for citizens and businesses is the key: "Our goal is to keep annual increases at or below inflation, as expressed by the CPI, over time," the Mayor said.  "That will mean evaluating our operating expenses and business plans over the next three months and developing a plan that's more affordable going forward."

Under the new 2012 proposal, residential customers will pay dramatically less for water consumption during the summer watering season. At other times of the year, the average customer will pay the same as they do today or slightly more. 

Commercial customers will see the same decreases in water usage charges as residential customers.  The commercial rate structure from 2010 is retained with the same increases as those added to the residential rates.

Overall, the proposal includes:

  • A return to the four rate tiers as they existed in 2010, making the rates more understandable while continuing to encourage conservation. The current system has five tiers that charge significantly more as water use increases.
  • Retention of graduated block pricing to make water more affordable.  This helps citizens pay less because your usage is billed progressively at each tier.  In past years, 100 percent of the usage was billed at the highest applicable rate tier.
  • An increase in the base charge from $12.32 to $13.61, to help the City maintain the water system. All customers will pay a little more on the base charge to make up for the reduction in rates during peak watering times.
  • A significant reduction in the rate increase for water use. The Mayor is proposing an inflation-only increase from the 2010 rates.  This amounts to a total of 4.5 percent from 2010 to 2012 and replaces the 16 percent increase in consumption rates for 2012 approved by the prior City Council.
  • A move to monthly billing in the summerWater meters will be read monthly in the summer so bills are more predictable.

Ultimately, the costs of the water system are spread across customers more evenly.  The blended rate increase under the Mayor's plan is 5.7 percent compared to 7.9 percent under the current rates for 2012.  And, the approach requires the City's Water Department to manage costs.  The plan collects $2 million less in overall revenue, a 6 percent reduction.

"We are proposing a rate structure that's understandable, more affordable, and predictable," the Mayor says.  "It is still conservation-based but not so reliant on a few users.  And for the future, we will work to set rates that will provide for a reliable, sustainable water system."

The Mayor's 100-Day Action Plan includes a total of 21 action items within 5 priority areas:

  • Public Safety:  Restoring public trust in law enforcement and enhance community health and safety.
  • Jobs & Economic Growth:  Creating an atmosphere to attract and retain jobs.
  • Budget:  Promoting long-term fiscal health without undue burden on citizens.
  • Infrastructure:  Maintaining critical public infrastructure at an affordable price.
  • Quality of Life:  Engaging citizens and improving the quality and character of our community.

Citizens can track the City's progress on the items on the City's web site at www.spokanecity.org/government/mayor/OneHundredDay.

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