Sequim residents will see a change in their water utility bills this month as city staff couldn’t read meters due to snow and ice in January. Water consumption fees will be deferred to March. City staff estimated most residents pay less than $5 for water consumption rates this time of year. (Matthew Nash/Olympic Peninsula News Group)

Sequim residents will see a change in their water utility bills this month as city staff couldn’t read meters due to snow and ice in January. Water consumption fees will be deferred to March. City staff estimated most residents pay less than $5 for water consumption rates this time of year. (Matthew Nash/Olympic Peninsula News Group)

Sequim to defer portion of February utility bills

SEQUIM — The City of Sequim will defer charges on February utility bills to March because inclement weather made it difficult to read meters.

Sequim Public Works staffers were unable to read the meters for residences and commercial buildings due to significant snow and ice buildup in mid-January, according to a city press release, so this month’s bills will include only base water utility charges and not consumption charges.

March’s utility bills will include both January and February consumption charges, along with the base charge.

The change affects about 3,600 accounts, city staff reported.

Clallam County PUD, Jefferson County PUD and the City of Port Angeles were not affected.

Sequim staff members said it’s been a few of years since staffers have been unable to read meters, and it’s only happened about three times in two decades.

Sue Hagener, Sequim’s administrative services director, said the average residential customer pays about $6.50 in consumption charges this time of year with a few accounts bringing the average up. Most residents pay less than $5 in consumption charges, she said.

An average for business accounts was unavailable as they vary based upon their type of operation, Hagener said.

Single-family residents pay a water utility base rate of $28.97 per month, and multi-family residences pay $27.51, according to the city’s webpage.

Hotel/motel and RV sites pay $21.71 per month for the water base utility rate, and commercial, irrigation and public residences with a 3/4-inch line pay $43.47 per month, which increases depending on the size of the pipe, with the maximum base charge at $434.40 for a 3-inch line or larger.

For sewer utilities, single-family and multi-family residences only pay a base charge and not a usage fee. Commercial and hotel/motel and RV sites (per unit) pay a base charge and a fee based on usage amounts.

Hagener estimated that will mean anywhere from $25,000 to $50,000 will be deferred in water utility revenues for the city from February to March.

However, she said the most revenue the city collects is from base rates.

“The philosophy around this is to ensure stability of revenues throughout the year, so consumption charges make up a small portion of our revenues,” Hagener said.

If the increased consumption charges in the March billing cause undue hardship, city staff said they can make arrangements as needed. The finance office can be reached at 360-683-4139.

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Matthew Nash is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. Reach him at mnash@sequimgazette.com.

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