Friday, November 21, 2008

Sewer rates rise in Bellevue

It's getting more expensive to flush in Bellevue.

The Bellevue City Council last week voted to increase sewer and water rates. Sewer rates rose from $35 to $45 and are likely to rise another $10 next year. Water rates rose from $19.12 per month to $20.

Three years ago city residents voted overwhelmingly to approve a sewer revenue bond to help fund construction of a new wastewater treatment plant, which will replace the city's aging lagoon-style wastewater plant. The current plant had run afoul of environmental discharge standards set by the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality.

To pay for the plant, in October 2005, Bellevue raised sewer rates from $18.21 to $35 per residential hookup, in anticipation of the vote on the sewer revenue bond. The increased sewer rates were used to repay the revenue bond over its 20-year life span.

The City Council accepted a winning bid last month of $4.7 million from TEK Construction Inc. of Bellingham, Wash., for construction of the city's membrane bio-reactor treatment facility.

Total cost of the facility will reach about $7.5 million. The city bonded for $6 million and a federal block grant will pay $500,000 of that.

The city will have to find $1.06 million more from city funds. Under Idaho Law, sewer and water rates can be increased by up to 4.9 percent each year without a public hearing.

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