Washougal city council approves water rate relief

Ordinance includes utility discounts for low-income seniors

The Washougal City Council has given the go-ahead to use $500,000 of unrestricted general fund reserves to provide a one-time, flat-rate reduction in water rates for residential homes.

The 2013 bi-monthly base rate reduction is $14.48 ($86.87 for the year). Prior to the reduction, the bi-monthly single family residential water rate was $60.38.

The city will undertake a cost of service analysis this year. It will include a review of the residential 10 unit base charge.

Washougal has a program that allows low income seniors to apply for discounted sewer and stormwater rates. The income levels had not been updated in the recent past.

The council’s ordinance, approved Jan. 22, links the senior income levels to the federal extremely low ($16,650) and very low level ($27,800) rates on the Housing and Urban Development federal site. It is updated annually based on the median income in the area.

Washougal residents are in their third year of a five-year overall increase of 122 percent for water, sewer and storm water rates. The increases were required to pay for water and sewer infrastructure improvements, in order to meet state and federal regulations. They include the $15 million upgrade of the city’s wastewater treatment facility.