PORT ANGELES — Sewer rates in Clallam Bay and Sekiu will rise 8 percent if Clallam County commissioners pass an ordinance before them today.
The initial rates hike would be followed by 3.5 percent increases in each of the next two years, Public Works Administrative Director Bob Martin told commissioners Tuesday.
Commissioners received no public testimony in hearing on the proposal at the county courthouse.
The hearing will resume in a special meeting at 5 p.m. today at the Sekiu Community Center, 42 Rice St.
Staff proposed the sewer rate increase to help keep up with the rising costs of operating the aging infrastructure.
The last rate hike for Clallam Bay-Sekiu customers was in early 2011, Martin said.
“Even with this rate increase, it’s substantially lower than what others in other communities are paying for the same service,” Martin told the board.
If the ordinance is approved, the basic sewer rate for residential customers in Clallam Bay and Sekiu would rise from $44 per month to $47.50 per month.
Business owners would see their basic sewer rate go from $49 to $53 per month.
The volume rate for those using more than 700 cubic feet per month would go from 6 cents to 7 cents per cubic foot.
For comparison, monthly sewer rates are about $65 in Port Angeles and Sequim and $55 in Forks, Martin told commissioners in May.
The basic rate for Carlsborg sewer will be about $70 per month when that system is up and running next year.
Since Clallam Bay and Sekiu are considered to be economically distressed, Clallam County has subsidized the sewer there with about $33,000 from its general fund and about $25,000 from its repair and replacement account, Martin said.
“This rate, while it will help keep up with costs, will not completely replace the subsidy that has been approved for this system for the last 10 years,” Martin said.
“It will catch up on that a bit, but it will not replace it.”
Clallam County will eventually replace the Clallam Bay-Sekiu sewer, officials have said.
Commissioner Bill Peach, whose district covers the West End, said the proposed sewer rate increase was reviewed by the Clallam Bay/Sekiu Community Advisory Council.
He and Martin said council members expressed a desire to have gradual rate increases rather than large, sudden spikes.
“That community is economically depressed, and the lack of a robust fishing season — nothing to do with the people — has actually made that situation quite a bit worse,” Peach said, referring to the lack of a coho salmon fishing season.
In addition to the sewer rate hearing, the Clallam Bay/Sekiu Community Advisory Council will discuss community reports at the special meeting today.
In other action from Tuesday’s board meeting, commissioners approved a new regulations for vacation rentals.
Community Development staff revised the proposal after a robust public hearing on Aug. 23.
The simplified version is more reliant on existing county codes and waives a $50 mandatory inspection that was originally pitched.
”I want to thank the Department of Community Development and everyone who was involved in putting this together, particularly for your careful listening to all of the public comments that were made at the hearing and incorporating those as appropriate,” Commissioner Mark Ozias said.
”I think that you did a fantastic job of that.”
“I’m especially appreciative of the approach taken to have this not become a significant cost burden for businesses,” Peach said.
Commissioners also scheduled Oct. 18 hearings on proposed amendments to the county’s veterans assistance policy and a new code chapter for roadside weed management.
The hearings will begin shortly after 10:30 a.m. in Room 160 at the Clallam county Courthouse, 223. E. Fourth St., Port Angeles.
Meanwhile, county commissioners and staff this week are holding a series of presentations on the preliminary 2017 budget and six-year transportation plan.
The budget forums and Road Department briefings began Tuesday night in Port Angeles and will resume in Forks today.
Today’s presentation will begin at noon at the Forks Chamber of Commerce luncheon at Blakeslee’s Bar &Grill, 1222 S. Forks Ave.
The last forum will begin at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Sequim Transit Center, 190 W. Cedar St., Sequim.
Those who cannot attend the forums can view the presentations on the Clallam County website, www.clallam.net.
Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at rollikainen@peninsula dailynews.com.