Utility rates for Olympia households will increase in 2017 to cover the rising costs of water and related services, under recommendations from city staff and the city’s Utility Advisory Committee.
Under the proposed rates, the city expects the average single-family residence in Olympia will pay an additional 3.3 percent — or about $7.70 — per bill, which comes every two months. City utilities covered by the bill include drinking water, sewer, storm/surface water, garbage and recycling services.
Customers would pay more for drinking water along with a higher “capacity development charge” (new connection fee) from the LOTT Clean Water Alliance, which is a noncity entity that handles wastewater for Thurston County.
Organic yard waste service fees also are proposed to increase by $1.25 every two months for customers who choose the optional service.
The extra money will cover higher costs for salaries, benefits and energy while funding projects that improve public infrastructure, according to the city.
In a written evaluation of the 2017 rate recommendations, committee chairman Thad Kurtz noted that the proposed rates “reflect our responsibility to maintain and improve our essential public infrastructure.”
Kurtz expressed reservations about the financial impact of higher rates on some households.
“Municipal water and waste management is costly, and services must be provided without interruption or public health risk,” the letter states. “Regardless, utility bills pose a hardship to numerous Olympia households; roughly 7 percent of our customers are behind on their bills at a given time.”
The committee does not support a transition to monthly billing instead of billing every two months. The cost for that transition is estimated at $300,000, if approved.
The 2017 rate recommendations will go before the Olympia City Council for approval this year.
Andy Hobbs: 360-704-6869