That’s the slide deck the Seattle City Council‘s Public Utilities and Neighborhoods Committee will see during its meeting at 2 pm next Tuesday (April 14th), as it begins reviewing a water-rate increase proposed by Seattle Public Utilities, which just sent this preview:
In keeping with a strategic business plan approved by City Council last year, Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) is proposing drinking water rate increases of 1.7 percent for 2016 and 2.7 percent for 2017. The business plan aims at capping average rates for all SPU services — drinking water, sewer, drainage, garbage and recycling — to an annual average of 4.6 percent through the year 2020.
A drainage and wastewater rate proposal will be considered by Council later this year. That proposal also is expected to fit within the 4.6 percent average annual rate cap.
The Council will begin consideration of the water rate proposal next week.
Principal drivers of the proposed water rate increases include updated inflation assumptions and new investments identified in the strategic business plan such as preparing for water supply and utility system threats that may occur from climate change and developing a plan to better protect the drinking water system from earthquakes.
There was no increase in drinking water rates in 2015. Under today’s proposal, monthly bills for a typical single-family home would go from $38.93 this year to $39.68 in 2016 and $41.13 in 2017. Rates for a typical convenience store would go from $95.80 in 2015, to $97.35 in 2016 and $99.80 in 2017. A medium hotel could see an increase from $7,379 this year, to $7,486 in 2016 and $7,625 in 2017.
Last August, the Council adopted a six-year strategic business plan for Seattle Public Utilities, which maintains and improves essential services while holding annual rate increases — which had averaged almost 7 percent per year over the previous 10 years — to an annual average of 4.6 percent.
The strategic business plan was guided by an independent customer review panel that met 28 times beginning April 2013, and by an efficiency expert who scrutinized SPU’s business practices. The public had a say in the plan, too, through an extensive public outreach process that received input from residents and businesses throughout the city.
Seattle’s water system is wholly funded by rate and fee revenues related to water service. In any given year, these rates and fees must be sufficient to pay the total costs of the water system and meet adopted financial targets.