PUD Commissioners Approve Slate of Water Rate Increases

At their April 20th Regular Meeting, the PUD’s Board of Commissioners approved a four-year slate of rate increases for residential and commercial water customers. The first increase will go into effect in June of this year and will see water rates rise by an average of 16%. The second increase is slated for January of 2022, with subsequent increases also following in the first month of 2023 and 2024.

The increases follow recommendations from a recently completed Cost of Service Study performed by FCS Group on behalf of the PUD. The study showed most current PUD rates did not match the cost of providing the services. Expenses outpaced revenues for water and sewer services in 2020, with a $400,000 shortfall in net margins predicted on a $3.9 million annual budget for 2021.

According to PUD General Manager Kevin Street, the average customer will see bills for June increase by approximately $7 each month, from $37.43 to $44.83 for the average residential customer, and from $105.65 to $112.65 for the average commercial customer. In January 2022, average bills will rise to $52.78 and $125.06, respectively. The water rate increases will be split between both base and consumption fees said Streett.

“This is to catch up, this isn’t even to make-up,” said District 3 Commissioner Dan Toepper about the 4-year slate of water increases. The PUD’s recently completed water system plan identified $16.4M in capital improvement projects needed to keep systems running safely and reliably through 2030.

Toepper noted that the PUD’s recent cost of service study called for additional rate increases beyond 2024 to continue to cover both the water division’s operating expenses and capital improvements. “We understand that this is going to be painful, but it will be even more painful the longer we wait.”

The PUD manages more than a dozen water systems across Jefferson County, serving 4931 customers. The PUD does not provide water to the City of Port Townsend. Electric and sewer rates will be discussed by the PUD commission in May.

More information about the changes to the rates and the audio recording of the meeting can be found here.

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