Council refines study of sewer rate change


October 21, 2021

The Cathlamet Town Council reviewed an analysis of possible changes to sewer rates Monday and asked consultants to refine three for future consideration.

Sewer rates are now based on equivalent customer units (ECU) and don't reflect the actual quantity of waste a customer puts into the system. The new models, prepared by Rural Community Assistance Corporation (RCAC), a non-profit organization providing analytical services to municipalities and other entities, are based on a customer's water meter size. The water meter size is considered to indicate the amount of waste a customer may put into the sewer system.

RCAC presented four rate models, each with four parts indicating if the customer is residential or commercial and if they're inside or outside the town limits. Two models included an equal base charge for all customers and a usage charge for the amount of water passing through a customer's meter. The other two models had rates based on the size of a customer's meter, which theoretically calculates the potential amount of waste that would be produced.

Current rates differentiate between customers inside or outside the town limits. RCAC's Lori Blau noted that the four models treat all customers equally.

"We couldn't find justification for different rates inside or outside the town limits, so they're all the same," she said.

Beside potential cost to customers, the models calculated whether or not they'd cover system costs and how they would impact reserves.

After reviewing the four models, council members favored two which included a monthly base rate combined with a usage rate. One base rate was $75 and the other was $30. The council asked RCAC to refine these rate models and add another with a $50 rate combined with usage so that they could consider impact on customers and impacts on reserves and profit or loss.


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