Bonney Lake considers reducing its water rate

The City Council may reduce the base water rate by $5.

Bonney Lake water customers may find themselves a little more liquid this summer as the city council this week considered a measure to reduce the city’s base water rate by $5.

The idea, proposed by Mayor Neil Johnson came at the beginning of a scheduled workshop discussion on removing the additional summertime increase on water consumption.

As stated in the ordinance, the original purpose of the consumption charge was to encourage conservation of the city’s water supply, but an increase in supply has made that unnecessary and the city wishes to encourage residents to keep their lawns greener during the summer season.

But Johnson said he was thinking it would be more fair to reduce everyone’s charge while still giving residents the option to save money by reducing their watering, or to keep their lawns green.

“I think we should just give something back on the base rate,” he said, adding the water utility had a fund balance of approximately $14 million.

Presently, the base rate for water in Bonney Lake is $16.69 plus $1.16 per 100 cubic feet (CCF) up to 10 CCF and $2.29 per CCF more than 10. In the summer, the consumption rate jumps to $3.92 per CCF more than 10.

The city council immediately jumped on the idea of reducing the base rate to $11.69 and maintaining consumption charges as passed.

Councilman Jim Rackley said he preferred to lower the base rate instead of consumption because the tiered rate system was designed to promote conservation of resources.

“It was to reduce consumption during that period,” he said, adding that an increase in consumption means the city must buy water sooner when residents go through the city’s available sources.

According to City Administrator Don Morrison, the drop of $5 per month would cost the city $64,555 per month or approximately $774,000 per year. Morrison said he disagreed with the decision to lower the base rate instead of consumption charges because the base rate is the only money in the equation that is guaranteed, while the consumption rate varies.

But because the water utility has such a large fund balance, the council did not oppose the proposal.

The council is expected to vote on the measure Tuesday.