PUD considers sewer rate hikes

Proposal to be discussed next week

PORT TOWNSEND — The Jefferson County Public Utility District commissioners are expected to vote on proposed rate increases for wastewater/sewer services when they meet Tuesday.

Staff members say the rate hikes would bring rates in line with operational costs and capital improvements over the next five years, reported Will O’Donnell, communications director.

The meeting Tuesday will be at 5 p.m. via Zoom. Attendees can access the meeting at the PUD’s website at www.jeffpud.org. Public comment will be accepted at the meeting.

On Aug. 17, PUD Engineering Director Samantha Harper presented the commissioners with multiple options for increasing rates.

Harper said she based the proposal on previous discussions, with separate rates for Kala Point and Beckett Point system customers, and options to phase in the rate increases from one year to 10 years, O’Donnell said in a press release. Commissioners Kenneth Collins and Jeff Randall expressed a preference for a five-year phase-in during the meeting, O’Donnell added.

Most PUD wastewater/sewer customers currently pay $30.80 per month, with the exception of a limited number of customers in Kala Point who pay $20 per month, Harper said.

If the commissioners approve the rate increases, 2021 rates would rise to $25.60 per month for PUD sewer customers in Kala Point, $47.41 for Beckett Point, and $41.20 per month for all other systems. The specific data on when the new rates would be implemented will be discussed Tuesday, O’Donnell said.

Rates would increase annually until 2025 in the five-year phase-in, with most customers paying $82.78 per month after the last increase, while Beckett Point customers would pay $115.36 per month and Kala Point $47.98 per month, the release said.

The reason the Beckett Point customers would pay higher rates is because a small amount of customers are connected to a relatively new and expensive wastewater system, O’Donnell said.

Kala Point customers pay less because of legacy charges from when the PUD purchased the system years ago, O’Donnell said.

The PUD recently commissioned a cost-of-service study for the wastewater/sewer utility that included a review of the current rates, necessary capital improvements, and the cost to maintain and run the wastewater utility, O’Donnell said.

According to PUD General Manager Kevin Streett, the water division of the PUD has been subsidizing the wastewater/sewer services for several years. The study provided several options on new rates that will eventually align rates with costs, he said.

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Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 5, or at [email protected]

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