City should stand firm in sewer negotiations with Navy

  • Friday, January 24, 2020 3:10pm
  • Opinion

Oak Harbor officials had yet another financial surprise regarding the new sewage treatment plant. This time it was in the midst of negotiation with the Navy over hooking the Seaplane Base to the city’s facility.

Larger than anticipated rate hikes will put pressure on city officials to finalize an agreement with the Navy to treat its wastewater.

Doing so would cut residents’ rates, though nobody can say by how much.

City leaders should stick to their guns and ensure the Navy pays its fair share, even if it means staying with the rate hikes.

A consultant’s rate study calls for a series of increases in wastewater rates this year and the following four years to cover costs associated with the $149-million plant located downtown adjacent to Windjammer Park.

If adopted by the council, the rate would increase by about 29 percent over the next five years. It would jump from about $103 to nearly $133 a month in 2024. The reason for the proposed rate hikes is the cost of flood insurance, which wasn’t planned for, and higher-than-anticipated electricity charges.

The impact of proposed rate changes would be compounded by increases in solid waste, water and stormwater rates.

This comes after city leaders were twice surprised by giant increases in the cost of the treatment plant itself. The saving grace in those controversies was that city officials were able to obtain grants and low-interest loans to keep rates lower than they otherwise might have been. But apparently that’s no longer the case.

City council members vowed that Oak Harbor ratepayers would not subsidize the Navy when it comes to treating its dirty water. The membrane bioreactor system cleans the water so well that it’s safe to drink and will meet environmental standards for many years to come.

Hooking the Navy in would increase the operational expenses and significantly reduce the capacity and lifespan of the facility.

In the negotiations between the city and Navy, it’s David and Goliath. Hopefully David stands firm and Goliath plays fair.

More in Opinion

Sound Off: Recalling the Founders’ views of a free press

America’s Founders regarded a free press as so vital to the new… Continue reading

Sound Off: However you rock a face mask, just be sure you wear one

I’ve heard lots of dismal news about the pandemic, the public health… Continue reading

Editorial: No, we don’t need permission to report on meetings

Coupeville Mayor Molly Hughes doesn’t seem to understand a really basic function… Continue reading

Newspaper returns to broadsheet format, moves to new home

No, you aren’t imagining things. Yes, the Whidbey News-Times-South Whidbey Record you’re… Continue reading

Editorial: It’s a difficult conversation, but one we must have

The City of Langley took an important step Monday. The council entered… Continue reading

Sound Off: Addressing white silence on Whidbey Island

I have had the immense privilege of being born and raised on… Continue reading

Sound Off: Be strong, resilient and listen to each other

I have been giving considerable thought to the circumstances we, as a… Continue reading

Editorial: Answers to protests not simple, but there is hope

Editorial writers at newspapers across the nation are grasping for words when… Continue reading

Editorial: COVID responses should continue as we reopen

Island County residents have taken the response to the pandemic seriously. That… Continue reading

Memorial Day: Remember, honor those who sacrificed

I am humbled anytime I have the opportunity to pay homage to… Continue reading

Rockin’ a Hard Place: Overcoming an eerie feeling in an empty tourist town

Eerie is an onomatopoeia – a word that sounds like what it… Continue reading

Editorial: Governor, allow the show to go on at Blue Fox Drive-in

Somehow people are choosing sides when it comes to COVID-19. And it’s… Continue reading