News

Buckley bumps rates

By Jessica Keller, The Courier-Herald

Utility rates will be a little bit steeper in Buckley next year.

At the Dec. 9 City Council meeting, the council voted to raise the water, sewer, stormwater and natural gas rates in Buckley, beginning Jan. 1.

Water and stormwater rates will only increase the yearly 3 percent for inflationary purposes. The amount the average homeowner in Buckley will pay depends on the size of their pipe, plus $1.07 per 100 cubic feet of water used per month. For stormwater, a single family residential charge is $6.07 per month.

Sewer and natural gas rates have a heftier increase, however.

Sewer rates will increase 13 percent, and natural gas will increase 5.7 percent. For a single-family residence already hooked up to the sewer system, sewer charges are $38.49. For natural gas, residents have been paying 70 cents per therm, and beginning next year will be paying 74 cents per therm.

After listening to two Buckley residents speak against the increases, the City Council unanimously passed all utility rate ordinances.

"Unfortunately, I don't see a way to avoid these increases and keep the city solvent," Councilman Randy Reed said.

The city is raising the costs of sewer services due to capital improvement costs, to help pay for the upgrade to the sewer plant, City Administrator Dave Schmidt said. Based on preliminary cost estimates of the project, it may be necessary to increase sewer rates up to 39 percent, but the city hesitated to pass that amount all at once.

The City Council will lower sewer rates, however, if another revenue fund becomes available to the city.

"We're working all the different angles in the possibilities out there to keep construction costs down," Schmidt said.

Jessica Keller can be reached at jkeller@courierherald.com

In other news, the City Council established the assignment and distribution method for 64 residential equivalent sewer connections returned to the city.

The sewer connections have been distributed into three allocation pools. Pool No. 1 has 12 residential equivalent sewer connections assigned to it and will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis. They will be for the construction of one single-family residence or one duplex unit on an individual lot created prior to Dec. 9.

Pool No. 2 has 13 residential equivalent sewer connections assigned, also to be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis. They will be for the construction of commercial/industrial businesses and/or commercial/industrial binding site-plans involving multiple tenants and/or commercial/industrial uses.

The city will be receiving applications and deposit fees for these two pools at 8 a.m. Jan. 26, at the Building and Planning Office, 833 Main St. Applications should be picked up and filled out prior to Jan. 26. Doors to the Multi-purpose Center will open at 7:30 a.m. and any line should be formed outside the Building and Planning Office door.

The third pool is for residential land division uses and 39 connections have been assigned to this pool. These will be distributed through a lottery during the closest City Council meeting that comes after these dates: Jan. 15, April 15, July 15 and Oct. 15.

The city will be accepting applications for land division uses by mail postmarked Saturday, or can be dropped off beginning 8 a.m. Monday at the Building and Planning Office, 833 Main St., Buckley, Wash. 98321. All completed applications for the lottery must be received no later than 11 a.m. Jan. 27, 2004. The lottery will be during the City Council meeting at 7 p.m. that night, Jan. 27, at the Multi-purpose Center.

Anyone who wants application materials or more information should call city staff at 360-829-1291 ext. 205 or ext. 200.

Jessica Keller can be reached at jkeller@courierherald.com

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