Council adopts new utility rates, plans 2-hour parking


September 22, 2022

The Cathlamet town council on Monday took big steps on major projects--adopting a new rate structure for sewer and water utilities and starting the process to impose two-hour parking limits on Main Street.

The council also gave initial approval to an ordinance allowing town residents to keep up to five chickens at their residences. Ordinances need approval in at least two separate meetings, so final action will come at a subsequent meeting.

The council has been working on utility rates for years and put together a new structure designed to equalize rates between large and small water accounts and even differences between customers inside and outside the city limits.

"As part of this proposal, water service rates will increase by 5% for in-town customers and decrease by

4.25% for out-of-town customers in order to gradually eliminate the difference between rates for in-town

and out-of-town rate users," Clerk/Treasurer Sarah Clark wrote in her report.

"Sewer rates for all customers, regardless of whether they are located in or outside of town-limit, will consist of a flat monthly base rate of $85 and a usage charge of $0.20 per one cubic foot of water based on their winter-average which is calculated by averaging usage during the prior winter quarter (December to February).

"Winter averaging determines the fixed sewer rate that will be combined with the base rate and charged monthly in the preceding year. Winter-averaging protects customers from paying more for warm weather activities such as watering lawns, washing cars, landscaping, and filling pools.

"We have emailed and/or mailed notices to all customers whose bills are expected to increase as a result of the proposed rate changes."

Council voted to approve the first reading of the ordinance establishing the new rates. Final action will come at a subsequent meeting.

Council members also approved several changes to the town's parking ordinances in first readings.

One would establish two-hour parking in the lot between the library and Pioneer Community Center.

Others would establish a two hour parking limit in the Main Street business area, between Broadway and Butler streets.

The move to restore the two-hour limit comes from concerns from businesses that people are parking all day and limiting customers' access.

Council members identified several concerns. Some felt limits should be Monday through Friday, not Monday through Saturday.

Proposed changes would have eliminated a section allowing overtime permits, but council members felt that service company vehicles, for example, could park long periods while crews were working in buildings.

The council also supported a suggestion to increase the number of parking spaces for handicapped drivers, or perhaps even exempting vehicles with handicapped parking permits from the time limits.

"Implementation will take awhile," Mayor David Olson commented Tuesday. "The next step is second reading of the ordinance, which will likely only take place in the last half of October.

"There will likely be changes in the second reading before any final vote. Among other things, council has discussed limiting the parking restriction to Monday-Friday only, excluding Saturdays, and expanding the parking window to three hours instead of two hours as it was previously."

Other tasks would include installing signs and negotiating with the Wahkiakum County Sheriff's Office for enforcement.


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