Bonney Lake budget nears completion

The Bonney Lake City Council is ready to put the finishing touches on its 2017-2018 biennial budget. The council held its final public hearing on the budget on the Nov. 22 meeting.

Former councilman Mark Hamilton speaks to the council Nov. 22 about a possible toxicity study being included in the next biennial budget and about the proposed new entrance to Victor Falls Park. Photo by Ray Still.

The Bonney Lake City Council is ready to put the finishing touches on its 2017-2018 biennial budget.

The council held its final public hearing on the budget on the Nov. 22 meeting.

Little has changed in the budget since the first public hearing on Oct. 4, which means the council is moving forward with development plans for both Allan Yorke Park, a new Public Works Center and the installation of a traffic light on the future 204th Avenue East and state Route 410 intersection.

One change that residents should be aware of is an increase in sewer fund spending, which is indicating a rise in sewer rates.

Over the next two years, the city expects to spend an additional $692,000 in sewer costs ($360,000 each year), due to the Sumner wastewater facility – which treats Bonney Lake and Sumner sewer water – hiring three more full-time operators by 2018.

City Administrator Don Morrison said that the city is unable to mitigate a rise in rates because the sewer fund’s reserves are dry.

The council plans to discuss the rate rise in the Dec. 6 workshop, with the relevant ordinance for the rate hike on the Dec. 13 meeting docket.

Morrison said the rate increase could be between 5 and 7 percent.

Water rates may also rise on Dec. 13, with Morrison saying they could get as high as they were back in 2008.

”If the Council does the “roll back”, it isn’t an across the board change. It varies by the various factors: in-city, out-of-city, first 10 centum cubic feet (CCF), next 10 CCF,” he said. “The range is 0 to 16 percent. The average increase in the base rate would be $2.69 per month.”

These are “interim rate increases,” Morrison said meaning the rates may change again come spring.

On Nov. 8, the council approved of a rate study with the Redmond-based Financial Consulting Services Group to further study how much sewer and water rates should increase in the city.

The rate study is anticipated to be finished in March 2017, at which point the city may revise the rate increases.

“Everything will be revisited again in the spring,” Morrison said.

As for when the interim rate increases could affect bills, residents can expect the increase to come during the February water and sewer bills cycle, since it takes 30 days after adoption for a rate increase to go into effect, as well as time to finish up the current billing cycle.

In other budget news, Pierce County engineering staff is requiring the city to include a $15,000 project to relocate the Victor Falls Park entrance.

Morrison said that the engineers say the current entrance has limited sight distance, and want the entrance moved further east along Rhodes Lake Road East, away from Angeline Road East.

The project would include a new gravel driveway for the entrance, as well as clearing away trees and vegetation to make it easier for drivers to see both directions along Rhodes Lake Road when exiting and entering the park.

Further discussion on the budget was held on the Dec. 6 workshop, after press deadline. Final action on the budget may take place Dec. 13.

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