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Utility rate increases pass final test

The utility rate increase proposal for the city of Bremerton is no longer just a proposal: it goes into effect on Nov. 1.

The City Council gave its final approval to the increase Wednesday night, voting 6-2 in favor of it. Councilman Mike Shepherd did not attend the meeting.

The new rates will increase the average residential utility bill by about $7 a month this year, $6 in 2005 and $4 in 2006 before averaging increases of about $1 through 2011.

“We have these utilities, and we have a responsibility to fund them,” said Mayor Cary Bozeman. “I think now is that the Council is making up for the previous 15 years of council’s unwillingness to bite the bullet on this issue and I’m proud of them.”

Bozeman said the rate increases were necessary to accommodate the city’s future growth and make the city more attractive to new companies.

“We’ve got a wonderful water system and a good sewer system,” he said. “We need to be responsible and take care of them.”

One of the things businesses and companies look at is the condition of a city’s infrastructure and how it is funded, he said.

“They’re not going to move to a city or be part of a place where they’re going to have to pay all the bills to finance a system that’s in decay,” he said.

The Council’s decision shows sound fiscal management of city resources, Bozeman said.

“We were trying to look ahead with the rate study we did an 8-year planning horizon, which is now a 7-year and tried to figure out what we going to have do in the next seven years,” said Phil Williams, director of the city’s public works

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