District approves higher rates
The Birch Bay Water and Sewer (BBWS) District has raised rates on its service by 3.5 percent. Commissioners voted 3-0 to hike the rate at their meeting May 24. An average household, using 90,000 cubic feet of water every other month, would pay an additional $2.23 for water and sewer.
Commissioner Pat Alesse said the rate increase is necessary to stave off rising costs and a larger increase down the line. Through the normal course of events we would have had to increase the rates a lot more next year, Alesse said. He said this is actually the least expensive option for taxpayers. If you dont cover your costs you wind up in trouble everyone pays twice by having bad service and having to pay more for it later.
The rate hike will pay for increasing expenses in areas such as energy and labor costs. For instance, the district expects to pay $24,000 to run energy-intensive equipment such as pumps and the districts new ultraviolet (UV) disinfectant system. The utility has UV units that kill off fecal coliform bacteria in the waste water discharged from the sewer plant. At the time the
life-cycle cost analysis was done I dont think we saw this kind of electricity cost increase coming, general manager Roger Brown said. Its good technology, were happy with it. Its performing well but its using more electricity. The more environmentally friendly UV treatment process is replacing the chlorine treatment the district used previously.
The district is also hiring another worker. Brown says even with the imminent hiring, the district , which now serves 6000 homes, is down one employee from 1998 despite the addition of more than 200 customers. Also on the horizon is $30,000 in expected costs for raises for existing employees, property assessments, billing costs, permits and taxes.
The new rate will generate an additional $69,000 for the district this year.