Blaine residents can anticipate a large increase in sewer rates next year, but how much is still uncertain.
During a special budget meeting last week, Blaine public works staff introduced a preliminary adjustment to sewer rates that could be as much as 14 percent, an additional $11 per month, if new development continues at the current 2 percent rate.
The increase would bring the monthly rate to about $92 if Blaine City Council approves the public works budget without revision.
Public works director Steve Banham said the city’s sewer rates were scheduled to increase each year to help pay for the new water reclamation facility, Lighthouse Point, but a 2009 decision by the city to eliminate connection fees forced the city to increase those rates by about 2 percent.
Ed Cebron, principal of the FCS Group, which was hired to conduct the 2010 wastewater and water rate review studies for the city of Blaine, said one option to curb ever-increasing monthly rates would be to put forth a voter-approved levy that would add an additional .68 cents per $1,000 of assessed value for nine years beginning in 2012 and reduce sewer rates by $15.76.
The property tax could be partially offset by the federal income tax deduction, saving ratepayers about $6.48 per month or $78 per year, he said.
Staff also discussed increasing rates slightly for low-income seniors and disabled customers by 1.6 percent, an option that several council members, including Scott Dodd, disliked. Dodd said because the number of people that qualify are so few – about 2 percent – it would make only a marginal difference to other ratepayers.
Blaine City Council will revisit the entire 2011 budget in their November 8 meeting.