Washougal utility rates could increase

Proposed hikes range from 13.5 to 28.5 percent

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Washougal residents could expect to see several increases in their utility payments next year.

During a workshop last night, City Council members heard from Karyn Johnson and Samantha Holert, with FCS Group, a consulting company located in Redmond, Wash.

Proposed increases for 2011 include 13.5 percent for water, 14.5 percent for storm water and 28.5 percent for sewer rates, according to Washougal Public Works Director Trevor Evers.

He said the increases would help pay for construction of the zone 4 water reservoir, as well as pipe improvements, sewer plant expansion and the design phase of storm water capital improvements.

The one million gallon water reservoir is expected to be built on 10 acres, at 1312 S.E. 352nd Ave. It is expected to serve 1,890 residences.

“The increases recommended over a five-year period take into account increased costs due to salaries, benefits, cost of providing the services, some capital projects and future projects as population continues to grow,” said Mayor Sean Guard.

Councilman Paul Greenlee said since sewer costs are higher than the city is collecting in revenue, there is a need to “raise rates to break even.”

Councilman Rod Morris mentioned water and sewer rates have been kept low for 10 years, and the city needs to avoid having to institute even higher increases. He mentioned the city of Forest Grove, Ore., which faced a 100 percent increase in its water and sewer rates.

In 2009, there was no increase in water and sewer rates in Washougal. In 2008, there was a 10 percent hike.

The next City Council meeting is scheduled for Monday, at 7 p.m., at City Hall, 1701 “C” St.