Back-to-back city utility rate hikes projected

Rates for most utilities provided by the city of Oak Harbor will have to increase over the next five years, but not by unexpected amounts.

Shawn Koorn with HDR Engineering presented the city council last week with a preliminary look at a rate study. Koorn said he looked at future capital projects and maintenance needs, as well as population growth and historical inflation, to estimate the rates over five years.

“They are, again, informational for you to consider but could be implemented,” he said

The city provides customers with water, sewer, stormwater and solid waste services. The utilities are run as enterprise funds, which means each fund pays for itself.

The good news is that stormwater rates won’t have to increase. They can remain at the current $14.22 a month per home.

Water rates will have to increase by 3.5 percent for three years in a row, from 2021 to 2023, he said.

Water rates are based on a base rate determined by meter size, plus a consumption rate. A single family home with a 3/4-inch meter and water consumption below 300 cubic feet a month currently pays $25.15 a month. It would jump to $27.89 in 2013 under the proposed rate increases.

Koorn projected that solid waste rates would have to increase by 2.5 percent each year from 2019 to 2021 and by 3 percent in 2022 and 2023. For a home with a 35-gallon roll can, the cost would jump from $19.90 to $22.73 from now until 2023.

Koorn also went over the projected rate increases for wastewater treatment, also known as sewage treatment. Most of the cost increase is to pay debt services associated with the new sewage treatment plant.

The rate will jump 15 percent next year. Koorn projected a 4.5 percent increase each year from 2020 to 2023 would be needed. For residential, that’s an increase from the current $89.30 to $122.54 a month in 2023.

City staff pointed out that the projections were lower than earlier estimates, which put the rate at $135 a month.

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