Jim Woessner

Jim Woessner

To nobody’s surprise, city’s sewer rates on the high end

Due to low-interest-rate loans, Oak Harbor’s projected sewer rates aren’t going to increase despite the estimated cost of the new sewage treatment plant ballooning by $20 million, according to city staff.

Nevertheless, the rates are on the high end — no matter how one looks at it — but are far from being outlandish.

“We have the highest sewer rates of any city in this area,” Councilman Jim Woessner said at a recent meeting during a discussion about the increased cost of the project — from $122 million to $142 million.

Woessner and other council members expressed concern that city staff hadn’t kept elected officials apprised of the increased cost.

Councilman Rick Almberg pointed out that the new plant will be a state-of-the-art facility — employing membrane bioreactor, or MBR, technology — and will serve the city for 50 years. Other communities will need to update their plants in years to come, he said.

The city’s current monthly sewage rate is $102.

A 2016 survey by the state Department of Ecology shows that rates vary widely within the state, from $157 a month in North Bend to less than $22 in Winthrop.

The rates at four cities closest in size to Oak Harbor show this range. The monthly residential rate in Maple Valley, which is served by Soos Creek Water Sewer District, is $36.06. Ratepayers in Kenmore, served by Northshore Utility District, is $59.30 a month.

The city of Mukilteo, served by Mukilteo Water and Wastewater District, is $40.69 a month.

A household that uses 1,000 cubic feet of water a month — the national average for a family of four — in the City of Bainbridge Island will be charged $115.49.

Oak Harbor’s rates are similar to other cities that have MBR plants. Lake Stevens charges $86 while Blaine’s rate is $100.98 a month.

Oak Harbor’s sewer rates have grown precipitously in recent years to pay for the new plant. They were at $64.75 a month in 2016.

The increase will continue for a few years. The current projected rate for 2021 is $110.08, according to City Administrator Doug Merriman.

More in News

Island County to simplify its code

For years, there have been complaints that Island County’s land-use code is… Continue reading

Hearing examiner to consider rezone, variance

The public is welcome to comment during an Oak Harbor hearing examiner… Continue reading

Beware the flamingos

Coupeville residents can donate to avoid a pink yard flock

County residents tend to be generous

People who live in Island County are among the most charitable in… Continue reading

Senators request contamination standards info

Washington’s two senators joined 16 of their Senate colleagues in requesting information… Continue reading

Local leaders discuss housing solutions — again

The restrictive nature of the state’s Growth Management Act, the lack of… Continue reading

Jamboree by the Sea coming in April

Deception Pass Sail and Power Squadron, a Washington non-profit, is hosting two… Continue reading

County considers possible restoration at Oak Harbor Marina

Oak Harbor is trying to improve its marina both for boaters as… Continue reading

Coupeville Port looking to fill commissioner opening

Port of Coupeville commissioners are deciding how to fill a vacant seat… Continue reading

Most Read