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GOLD BAR

GOLD BAR WATER SYSTEM RATES TO INCREASE
December 29, 2015




Gold Bar City council duscussing water rate issue. Photo courtesy Joe Beavers. CLICK TO ENLARGE


Gold Bar councilman Paul Jones encouraging people to fille for city council positions. Photo courtesy Joe Beavers. CLICK TO ENLARGE


2015 Gold Bar water rates compared to 2016 rates. CLICK TO OPEN


Gold Bar water rates compared to PUD water rates. CLICK TO ENLARGE
Special to the Chronicle by Joe Beavers

(GOLD BAR, WA.) -- The Gold Bar City Council meeting of December 15 included a discussion on the upcoming water rate increases for those on City water.

This meeting was the culmination of years of work, starting with the update of the Water Comprehensive Plan in 2010 that was recently approved by the Department of Health.

As part of that update, a contract for a water rate study was released in February. There was a workshop held on September 22, a consultant presentation on October 6, a full council discussion on November 3 and a resolution for the proposed rates for 2015 was initiated on December 1.

All this was done in open meetings advertised on the City website and by email to a distribution list.

After the December 1 meeting, a postcard was mailed to all water customers about the upcoming rate change that was up for approval at the December 15 council meeting.

WHY RATES MUST INCREASE

The rate increases were needed to maintain the water system, both for normal maintenance and for infrastructure updates.

Over the past 5 years, the City has invested over $ 1,000,000.00 in upgrading the system to meet Department of Health priorities.

These upgrades were primarily above ground and were financed by a USDA 40-year loan. The loan repayments are being made out of the current assessments.

The next stage is to upgrade the below ground infrastructure -- water mains and valves -- with a few above ground items.

The total cost to do this is estimated to be $4.0 million over the next 5 years with an additional $ 5.8 million for the 15 years after that.

The current assessment rates bring in about $ 117,000.00 per year, of which about $ 74,000.00 goes to pay off the USDA loan ($1.4 million for upgrades plus an older loan).

The consultant’s rate study is comprehensive and uses a "pay as you go" assessment calculation. This results in a $20.00 per month increase in the assessment ($32.41 from $12.41) in 2016 and steadily increasing annually.

The projected water bill for a typical residence exceeds $ 100.00 per month in 2018.

The net result is that the cost of the water will increase a little bit and the assessment will increase a lot.

The City could decide to finance all of the upgrades, as has been done in the past. A $ 4.0 million dollar commercial loan (5% over 25 years) would cost about $281,000 per year, raising the monthly assessment from $12.41 to $37.65.

While the assessment would not rise over time, the total cost of the loan would be just over $ 7.0 million. The City does not need to make the decision on this immediately.

However, the council needs to pass the new rate structure at their next meeting (January 5) in order to keep on schedule with the upgrade plans.

The proposed rates and the rate study are on the home page of the city's website, www.CityOfGoldBar.us. Sample billings are provided to illustrate the current rates and the proposed 2016 rates. A comparison to PUD water rates is also included.

As an aside, the City will open 2016 needing two additional councilmembers. Anyone who would like to positively contribute to community can apply to the City for consideration for one of the positions.

You can apply by email to Mayor Loen at l.loen@cityofgoldbar.us or by letter to City Hall at 107 5th Street.





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