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Kenmore City Council to consider agreement with Northshore Utility District

Kenmore City Hall - Reporter file photo
Kenmore City Hall
— image credit: Reporter file photo

The Kenmore City Council will discuss adopting a franchise agreement for water and sewer utilities with Northshore Utility District, at the Feb. 10 city council meeting.

The agreement would raise taxpayers’ current water and utility fee by 5 percent and produce around $400,000 per year to the city. Under the assumption a typical household water and sewer utility bill of $86.52 per month, a 5 percent fee will cost an additional $4.33 per month or $51.96 per year.

The fee will not be absorbed by the Northshore Utility District, but will be passed on directly to the rate payers.

“Revenue from this fee will help us keep our city looking beautiful,” said Rob Karlinsey, city manager.

Karlinsey stated the city needs the funds from this fee to help offset rising fixed costs, such as street maintenance contracts, fuel and material prices, street maintenance personnel, and declining revenues available for street maintenance and pavement preservation.

“We are a new city and there is still so much to improve upon,” Karlinsey said. “Our priority is making sure our roads are safe for our community.”

The city’s street fund has been subsidized with a general fund transfer each year for 10 years. However, the street fund’s ending balance has been declining as the general fund’s ability to subsidize the street fund has been negatively impacted by the recession and the way Washington state shares its revenues with cities.

“If the fee is adopted, it would mitigate the street fund’s declining fund balance and provide added resources to maintain the city’s transportation infrastructure,” Karlinsey said.

Kenmore currently does not impose a franchise fee or utility tax for water and sewer. In comparison to other cities, Kenmore’s utility tax and franchise fees in total are lower than the average of other cities, even with the new fee taken into account. For example, Bothell’s weighted average utility rate is $5.93, Kirkland’s is $7.88 and Brier’s is $4.65, according to city manager’s 2013-2014 biennial budget report.

If adopted, the fee would take effect March 10, 2014 until Dec. 31, 2016. The city and utility district can terminate the agreement with five years written notice at any time, as long as notice is given prior to Jan. 1, 2017.

The Feb. 10 meeting is at 7:30 p.m. in Kenmore City Hall, located at located at 18120 68th Ave. NE. The public is invited to attend and provide their opinion on the franchise fee.

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