Sewer rate goes before council

Enumclaw residents should learn how big a hit their budgets will take Monday night, when members of the Enumclaw City Council consider a serious increase in sewer rates.

Enumclaw residents should learn how big a hit their budgets will take Monday night, when members of the Enumclaw City Council consider a serious increase in sewer rates.

Word of a major increase first came in July, when Public Works Director Chris Searcy told the council a rate hike of at least 50 percent would be necessary to keep the sewer utility operating at a break-even level. Subsequently, it was suggested that a rate increase of 35 percent be adopted immediately, with a second increase likely coming with the beginning of the new year; that rate bump is expected to be in the 20 percent range.

Council will receive a full presentation outlining the sewer utility’s bleak financial picture during Monday’s regularly-scheduled meeting, which gets under way at 7:30 p.m. at City Hall.

It is not slated to be a formal public hearing, but the council always includes room in its agenda for public comments.

Increased sewer rates are nothing new to Enumclaw ratepayers, who have faced 27 percent hikes in each of the last three years.

The current dismal scenario can be traced to both the ongoing recession and higher-than-expected costs associated with a major upgrade to the city’s wastewater treatment plant, according to information provided by Searcy.

The last study of city sewer rates was done in 2005, he said in a written report, prior to construction of the treatment plant. Rates were set on the belief that the plant expansion would cost approximately $23 million and it now appears the cost will be about $33 million. The three-year increases did not take into account the higher debt load the city would incur due to the higher cost.

Second, rates were set with the expectation of greater revenues being generated, now that the treatment plant is operational. The 2005 rate study anticipated more than $280,000 in annual connection charges and, with the slowdown in the housing market, the actual figure for 2009 is closer to $54,000.

“The lack of new growth shifts the revenue burden to the existing customer base through rates,” Searcy wrote.

To comment on this story view it online at Reach Kevin Hanson at or 360-802-8205.

More in News

Black Diamond hits the reset button

The new Black Diamond City Council wasted no time on settling in and testing the political waters. On their first meeting of the year, new Councilwomen Melissa Oglesbee and Erin Stout and returning Councilwomen Tamie Deady and Janie Edelman marched through a long list of agenda items, many of which reversed council policies and goals set over the last two years.

Citizen group urges council to start pool planning

With the Sumner High School pool closing at the end of the 2018-2019 swim season, residents are asking the City of Bonney Lake to build a city pool to house the Panther and Spartan swim teams. A presentation on why the council should start planning a pool as quickly as possible is being held Tuesday, Jan. 23.

Teacher, student reconnect at living center after 66 years

A person can change in 66 years. At the very least, they’re going to look pretty different. So when Robert Terrell, 96, and Margaret (Peggy) Burley, 75, ran into each other at Bonney Lake’s Cedar Ridge assisted living facility last August, neither of them realized they had met before — at an elementary school, where he was a fourth-grade teacher, and she was a part of his first ever class.

Former Plateau resident lands role with Marvel T.V. series

McKay Stewart, who spent much of his childhood in Enumclaw and Bonney Lake, will be joining the Marvel universe in a new episode of “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” airing Friday, Jan. 19.

Library’s art and writing contest returns to Pierce County | Pierce County Library System

Pierce County teens are encouraged to express themselves through writing, painting, drawing and more for the annual Our Own Expressions competition, hosted by the Pierce County Library System.

Sumner School District seeks name ideas for new elementary school

Want to name your new local school? Just fill out a short form by Jan. 26

Judge reproaches Black Diamond mayor, former city council majority

In a summary judgement hearing, King County Superior Court Judge Janet Helson said she was troubled by both the actions of Black Diamond Mayor Carol Benson and former City Council majority Pat Pepper, Brian Weber, and Erika Morgan over the last two years concerning potential Open Public Meetings Act violations.

Man shot in Burnett; suspect turns himself in

According to the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department, the victim was driven to the Burnett Store in order to report he was shot by his brother. The suspect turned himself in approximately three hours later.

Garbage, water, sewer rates increase in Enumclaw

Having made the leap into a new year, Enumclaw property owners are now seeing increases to nearly all their utility rates. Here’s a look at the 2018 increases for city services, along with the financial impact on customers.

Most Read