In a 6-0 vote, the Spokane City Council tonight adopted new water rates for 2012, as proposed by Mayor David Condon as part of his 100-Day Action Plan.
"I want to thank the City Council Members for their unanimous decision tonight," says Mayor Condon. "Our citizens asked us to find a better way to charge for water. We have now approved a new rate structure for 2012 that's understandable, more affordable, and predictable."
The new rates, which will take effect in time for the summer watering season, are designed to reduce high summer watering bills and provide water customers with more predictable monthly expenses. The proposal uses the rate structure from 2010 as a base and makes changes to cover inflation since that time.
Under the newly adopted 2012 water rates, 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 newly adopted rates include:
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 graduatedblock 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 summer. As part of a pilot project, water meters will be read monthly in the summer so bills are more predictable.
Additionally, the new rates require the City to manage the Water Department more efficiently. The Water Department will make reductions to accommodate a drop of about $2 million in revenue as a result of the new rates.
"Our citizens have had to make difficult choices to manage their budgets in recent years, and these new rates require the City to do the same, consistent with our overall budget strategy," says Mayor Condon. "We made a difference today for our citizens."
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