Seattle Public Utilities warns of rate hike in 2015

by: Graham Johnson Updated:

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SEATTLE, Wash. - Seattle residents could see a big bill get even bigger next year under a new scenario from Seattle Public Utilities.

Utility rates that have already doubled over the last decade could increase 4.7 percent per year for the next six years.

Customers pay every other month for garbage, yard waste, drinking water, sewer and wastewater treatment.

SPU says bills that today average $314 could go as high as $422 in 2020.

"Our starting point is 4.7 percent. Our goal is to end up at a lower number," said Ray Hoffman, director of Seattle Public Utilities.

Hoffman said fixed costs and debt payments on big projects like combined sewer overflows make it tough to do much cost-cutting.

And utilities, he said, are heavily regulated.

"The cost of complying with those regulations is only going one direction and that is up," Hoffman said.

Still, SPU will work with a customer review panel to look for ways to save money.

One idea is to reduce garbage pickup to every other week.

That is very controversial, and alone would only lessen the rate increase from 4.7 to 4.4 percent each year.

 The City Council would need to approve any rate hike.   

Already, new socialist councilmember Kshama Sawant has dismissed the initial rate proposal, describing it on twitter as "not acceptable."

Seattle Public Utilities will hold a series of meetings around the city beginning next month.

Here are the details:

Feb. 5, 2014, 6 - 8:30 p.m.

Garfield Community Center

2323 East Cherry St, Seattle, 98122

 

Feb. 13, 2014, 6 - 8:30 p.m.

High Point Community Center

6920 34th Ave SW, Seattle, 98126

 

Feb. 20, 2014, 6 - 8:30 p.m.

Magnuson Park - The Brig

6344 NE 74th Street, Seattle, 98115

 

Feb. 22, 2014, 10:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

North Seattle Community College, Room CC1161 in the Conference Center

9600 College Way North, Seattle, 98103

 

Mar. 1, 2014, 10:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

Van Asselt Community Center

2820 South Myrtle St., Seattle, 98108

 

Seattle Public Utilities will also host an online survey at www.seattle.gov/util.