Gas rates will climb for winter

By Kevin Hanson, The Courier-Herald

Enumclaw's natural gas customers can expect to see an increase in rates this winter, a move that will cost the average homeowner between $6 and $7 per month.

Chris Searcy, public works director, brought the natural gas issue before the City Council earlier this month, and was given the go-ahead to lock in a rate. "We didn't want to wait much longer," he said last week. "Sometimes the pricing opportunity can go away."

City customers are now paying 75 cents per therm (the unit of measurement for natural gas) and the average city bill is about $57 per month for gas, Searcy said. He expects the rate will climb somewhere between 10 percent and 15 percent, with the new rate taking effect Nov. 1.

Searcy emphasized the increase only reflects the cost the city will pay for its natural gas supply; he's not anticipating any additional costs associated with the actual supply system. "We're not proposing an increase in the city's operational costs," he said. "We'll just pass on the cost of the gas itself."

In addition to natural gas, city residents can expect increase costs for water during the coming year. Last fall, Searcy told the City Council rates would have to increase by 15 percent to meet demands of operating the water system. Council members chose to implement a 7.5 percent increase for 2003 and delay the remainder of the rate hike until 2004.

Searcy said he hasn't yet addressed next year's rates for sewer service or trash collection.

Kevin Hanson can be reached at

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