Officials at Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) say they will need to raise rates for garbage, water, sewer and storm-water services 4.7 percent each year for the next six years to maintain current service levels. The average bi-monthly residential-utility bill would go from $325 in 2015 to $422 in 2020.
The utility will hold a series of public meetings in February and March to get feedback on whether it should cut back on some of its current operations and recommend lower rates, or add to its work plan and raise rates even more.
“This is the start of a conversation we want to have with customers,” said Ray Hoffman, director of the utility. “We want to know, ‘Should we do more? Should we do less? And in what areas?’ ”
Hoffman said the biggest drivers of the potential rate increases include the city’s costs for King County wastewater treatment, about $150 million a year, then solid-waste collection and disposal at about $80 million per year and projects already underway, including a new $92.4 million north transfer station for waste and recycling.
The city also is under a settlement agreement with the federal Environmental Protection Agency and state Department of Ecology to reduce sewage overflow into Puget Sound and Lake Washington, projects estimated to cost $500 million through 2025, Hoffman said.
In the past, the utility has introduced separate rate proposals for its different lines of business. Last year, the City Council asked the utility to develop a six-year plan that incorporated all anticipated rate increases into one proposal.
Following public feedback, a final proposal will be presented to the mayor and City Council in summer.
Public meetings for SPU’s Strategic Business Plan:
Feb. 5, 6 p.m.- 8:30 p.m.
Garfield Community Center, 2323 E. Cherry St., Seattle, 98122
Feb. 13, 6 p.m.-8:30 p.m.
High Point Community Center, 6920 34th Ave. S.W., Seattle, 98126
Feb. 20, 6 p.m.- 8:30 p.m.
Magnuson Park – The Brig, 6344 N.E. 74th St., Seattle, 98115
Feb. 22, 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
North Seattle Community College, 9600 College Way N., Seattle, 98103
March 1, 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Van Asselt Community Center, 2820 S. Myrtle St., Seattle, 98108
Those customers unable to attend a meeting can take a survey online and learn more at www.seattle.gov/util under “SPU in 2020.”