City unanimously lowers GFC charges until new charges are adopted for 2019

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by Richard Uhlhorn

The City Council unanimously lowered the City’s GFC Charges until it is able to adopt the 2019 GFC Rate Resolution. The intent of this temporary resolution is to provide water and sewer GFC’s at a 1 ERU rate for properties requiring ¾ inche or smaller meter size.

The lower rates will result in refunds anticipated to be approximately $70,000, impacting 15 to 20 properties, and the average reduced charges (including those not paid) to be approximately $11,000 per property. The Council unanimously passed this temporary Rate Resolution.

The new Water and Sewer GFC charges, when passed by the Council will recognize ¾ inch as a standard size meter under the Uniform Plumbing Code.

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Andy Baker, (FCS) is the City’s consultant working on a proposal for new GFC charges for water and sewer hookups.

At its November 27 meeting, Andy Baker (FCS), the City’s consultant working on GFCs, gave a presentation of his company’s research. The meeting had a number developers and builders on hand to hear his presentation and the Council’s reaction.

Baker told the Council that any reduction in GFCs will have to come from another source. Mayor Cooney suggested that those costs could be passed on to commercial businesses.

Erin McCardle said that the proposed GFCs lacked clarity and Kelly Allen remarked that the GFCs stick it to businesses. Ray Dobbs stated that the general assumption was that residences being build were mostly three bedroom homes.

Baker replied that the number of ERU’s being attached to each home is based on how much water and pressure is required to serve that home, and how far way the home is from the water main indicating that ¾ inch meters were now a required standard to meet the pressure requirements.

Homes currently with 5/8’s meters will have to be changed over to ¾ inch meters which means the home owner’s monthly rate will be higher to compensate for the replacement cost of the meter.

Tim Hollingsworth said he wasn’t convinced of the equitability of property owners having to continue to pay for services even though the building was torn down.

Baker replied that even though the building was no longer there the property owner continues to pay for the system, but wouldn’t pay for water use.

“Council might want to debate the fairness of that,” said Hollingsworth.

Guy Evans, a real estate broker commented that the current GFC charges were $16,000 for a downlake home (it is more uplake). John Walcker, a local developer asked Baker if he had compared rates with other communities.

“We did compare costs,” said Baker. “Each municipalities fees are based on their policies and each community’s cost.”

Walcker pointed out that the City of Manson only charges $11,500 and that Chelan’s GFC charges were currently 12 percent of the total cost of building. “It’s insane,” he quipped. Walcker is hoping to build a 36 unit affordable apartment building and said it would cost him $700,000 in charges.

Mayor Cooney said, “None of this is profit motivated… it’s to keep the system up and running.”

The Council, staff and consultant will meet on Tuesday, December 4 at 4 p.m. to continue to discussing the proposed GFC charges for 2019. The proposed budget will also be a topic of discussion in preparation of adoption at it’s December 18 Council meeting.

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