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Water, sewer rates on the rise

In keeping with the utility rate study recommendations made in 2004, the Bremerton City Council voted Wednesday to increase utility rates across the board. It also approved a larger than expected sewer rate increase.

As of Jan. 1, 2006, sewer rates will increase by 14 percent rather than 8 percent as outlined in the rate study. The study also recommended a 6 percent increase next year, but officials said combining the increases this year would bring in much needed capital.

“This gets us there a little bit earlier to get us over the cash flow hurdle,” explained Phil Williams, public works director. This hurdle is made up of a large debit service payment.

Stormwater rates, both fixed and volumetric, will increase by 25 percent and water rates will increase 15 percent.

According to Williams, the average resident would pay about $12 a month more.

Stuart Dempster, of Bremerton, urged the council to consider the impact on low-income residents.

“The city is obligated to charge what the cost of providing the service is,” explained Daren Nygren, council president.

Many of the increases in the cost of service are because of unfunded mandates, said Councilman Mike Short, who was chairman of the public works committee.

According to a list of cities compiled by Public Works, Bremerton’s present water rates rank among the lowest in the area. With the increase, they surpass Lacey and Sumner. Bremerton’s sewer rates are among the highest in the area and with the increase top the list surpassing Bainbridge Island. Current stormwater rates are among the lowest, but the increase brings Bremerton to the middle of the list.

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