City Weighs Increasing Solid Waste Rates and Charges in 2013

The public has a chance to comment on the proposed 9.5 percent increase in garbage rates and 5 percent increase in yard waste rates for next year during a hearing on Oct. 22.

The Enumclaw City Council is considering a proposed 9.5 percent increase in garbage rates and 5 percent increase in yard waste rates for next year due in part to increasing costs of working with King County and to the need to build up city reserves.

The ordinance came before Council Monday night for a first reading. Public Works Director Chris Searcy explained that the operating expenditure budget for 2013 will be about $115,000 more than in 2012 due to:

  • Increased tipping fee rates for refuse at the King County Transfer Station: $51,000
  • Equipment rental: $26,000
  • Personnel changes: $29,000 that weren't accurately estimated in the 2012 budget

The last item related to the separation of two positions this year that resulted in a large payout of leave balance, Searcy wrote in his staff report.

Reserves were used to offset the current operating deficit this year, Searcy said, and the proposed increase would help maintain the fund balance at its minimum level (which covers 30 days of operating expenses) while covering costs for necessary equipment replacement.

Searcy said the cost impact to the typical residential customer with a single 32-gallon can and yard waste service was an additional $2.23 per month. The new rates still remain in the ballpark of rates of cities nearby, he said.

Rates were last increased a year ago by 2 percent for garbage and 5 percent for yard waste.

The public has an opportunity to comment on the proposal during a public hearing on Monday, Oct. 22 at 7:30 p.m. at City Hall.

City Looks to Decrease Natural Gas Rates Next Year

Meanwhile, thanks in part to careful monitoring of natural gas prices and astute purchasing decisions, the city's natural gas utility has amassed a healthy reserve level over the last two years so staff are recommending a rate decrease in volumetric natural gas rates by 15 percent, effective Nov. 1 this year.

Searcy wrote in his staff report that while gas supply costs actually increase for 2013, the city had secured a fixed price for about 80 percent of the anticipated supply needs for Nov. 1, 2012 through March 31, 2013. It would purchase the remaining portion for that portion as well as for summer 2013 at market price, as needed.

Like the solid waste rate change ordinance above, this ordinance also came before Council for first reading only Monday. No action was taken at the time. If approved, the rate decrease would mean that monthly base charges for both residential and commercial customers stay at $6.25 and $10, respectively. But the average monthly winter gas bill for single family residential customers would decrease by about $15 per month with an annual savings of about $109.

The city last reduced natural gas rates by 5 percent last year.

More Opportunities for Public Input in October

City Administrator Mike Thomas said the city's preliminary 2013 budget comes out Friday, Oct. 12. It will be available on the city website at that time. Those who have input on the budget are welcome to attend two budget workshops this month, both at City Hall:

  • Wednesday, Oct. 17 at 7 p.m.
  • Wednesday, Oct. 24 at 7 p.m.

Two public hearings regarding the setting of the 2013 property tax levy take place Monday, Oct. 22 and Tuesday, Nov. 13, both at 7:30 p.m. at City Hall.


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