Arlington City Council approves sewer rate increases

ARLINGTON — Sewer fees are on their way up in Arlington.

The City Council approved Monday, May 17, a sewer rate increase of $5.35 per month starting June 1.

The new rate will require residential property owners to pay $57.45 for monthly sewer access within the city limits. Per the ordinance, that rate will increase to $62.80 in 2011, $68.15 in 2012 and top out at $73.50 in 2013.

Water rates were not part of the increase.

City officials have said that the new rates are necessary for the city to pay for the state and federally mandated capacity and treatment technology upgrades to its wastewater treatment plant, which is currently under construction.

The city has already increased sewer connection fees from $5,600 to $8,400 for new customers to help pay for the $42 million plant. These new rates will charge current customers their fair, proportionate share, said Jim Kelly, city of Arlington public works director.

While the Council approved the new rates without discussion, Council member Steve Baker voted against the increase. The ordinance passed 6-1.

The City Council held two public hearings in March and one in April regarding the rate hike. During those meetings, area property owners voice their opinions opposing the increase.

Many of those hearing attendees said that the city should look at charging customers by how much they use the sewer plant, and should not be charged a flat rate.

In addition to approving the new rates on Monday, the Council also approved a task order to analyze the city's current water and sewer utility rate structure. Under the task order, the city will pay Seattle-based utilities consultant Katy Isaksen & Associates approximately $18,000 to analyze its whether a new usage-based rate structure could be developed in Arlington.

Funds for the analysis will come equally from the both the city's water and sewer capital improvement funds.

"We wouldn't be doing our job if we didn't at least look at that option," said Councilman Scott Solla.

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