Port Townsend OKs new water, sewer rate study

PORT TOWNSEND — The Port Townsend City Council has unanimously approved a new water and sewer rate study and excise tax review that would update the study from 2013.

The Tuesday vote allows City Manager David Timmons to negotiate a contract with the FCS Group, which will prepare the study.

Timmons is authorized to spend no more than $46,870. About $40,000 has been budgeted for the study, coming out of the utility billing fund, according to city Finance Director Nora Mitchell.

New needs have arisen, Mitchell said.

These include updating the water sewer rate program, creating an industrial rate class for the Port Townsend Paper Co. and reviewing and updating the excise tax payment process.

Once the new study is completed, the city officials can move on to some of the utility capital projects budgeted for 2017, Mitchell said.

Those include the completion of the reservoir and water treatment facility and potentially replacing the 80-year-old water line along Water Street in downtown Port Townsend, according to Ken Clow, Public Works director.

“We need to understand how our current rate structure and surcharge structure will support those projects,” said Mitchell during Tuesday night’s meeting.

According to Timmons, the city is due for a new rate study.

The 2013 study was used to inform a roughly five-year projection — a deadline that is now quickly approaching, he noted Tuesday.

According to Timmons, it is worth moving up the deadline because the 2013 surcharges were set on the assumption that the city would be using UV treatment in the reservoir and market rate financing.

Instead the city moved to a full filtration system of its water supply and received financing through Public Works trust funds — making the 2013 projections not quite accurate.

“They appear to be close but we just need to fine-tune that,” Timmons said.

The study was approved with little discussion from council members and no public comment. According to Mitchell, the FCS Group is available to start the study immediately but no date has been set for the study’s completion.


Jefferson County Editor/Reporter Cydney McFarland can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 55052, or at cmcfarland@peninsuladailynews.com.

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