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Bellevue proposes rate increases for utilities and development services

 

The Bellevue utilities department is looking at raising water, sewer, and storm rates in 2013 and 2014. Much of the increase next year is a required pass-through of the cost of water sold to the city by Cascade Water Alliance and wastewater treatment by King County.

The rate increases would also fund infrastructure maintenance and key capital projects.

If the council approves the rate increases, the typical single-family residential customer would see their total monthly bill increase by 10.1 percent in 2013, from $123.52 to $135.97. In 2014, their monthly bill would rise another 5.9 percent, $8.06, to $144.03.

Even with the rate increases, Bellevue’s water, sewer, and storm rates would be competitive, in the mid to lower range when compared with neighboring cities, Utilities Director Nav Otal noted. By containing costs, the department was able to limit the proposed rate increases, she said.

The Development Services Department is proposing increases of 6.3 to 6.9 percent in the hourly rates charged for land use, transportation, utilities and fire review and inspection services to bring rates into line with the cost of the services and to meet established cost recovery policies. A 2.7 percent adjustment in building review and inspection fees is also proposed.

A gap emerged between fees and the cost of services provided in 2010 and 2011, when hourly rates were held constant to keep construction costs down for builders and developers struggling through the economic downturn. The council closed part of the gap last year, with a 5 percent increase in hourly rates.

From 2010 to 2012, the Development Services budget was cut by $4.2 million, with more than 30 staff positions eliminated.

The proposed hourly rate and building permit fee adjustments are expected to generate an additional $712,000. As the economy recovers and more construction takes place, that revenue will be necessary to add staff for continued fast, predictable services, Development Services Director Mike Brennan told the council.

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