A proposal for the Town of Cathlamet to cut its sewer connection fee to $100 makes sense to me.
The reasoning, say town officials, is lower fees will draw more connections and customers to the system, and that by having more customers of the sewer system, the financial load of operating the system and constructing a new wastewater treatment plant would be lower.
The council is considering another proposal that would raise rates from $45 per month for town residents to $80 per month in June, 2014. Rates for out-of-town customers would increase from the current $58 per month to $93 per month.
And high connection fees are a barrier to new connections. The town charges $3,000 for a new connection in town and $5,000 for a connection out of town, and if a Rosedale resident wants to connect to the main that goes up to Boege Road, there's an extra $3,000 surcharge to repay Wahkiakum County's contribution to the main construction. That's an $8,000 connection fee, probably as costly as most new septic systems, but a real barrier for multiple connections.
The Great Recession has put a hold on connections to the system. The Boege Road main has been in the ground six years without a connection.
It makes business sense to me to price the connections at a level which people and businesses can afford. That will get more people sharing the system's costs and benefits, and for people with troubled septic systems in Rosedale Heights, that's a real benefit.
County officials have balked at a suggestion that they waive their surcharge for the Boege Road main, but having people connected to a sewer instead of failing septic systems should be a plus for development. Perhaps that fee could be paid over time to ease the burden.
The town would like more people to share in the cost of its sewer system upgrade. Lowering fees is a good way to do that.
Perhaps they could take that one step further and make all fees equal, inside and outside of town.
Yeah, I like that idea, too.