Public utilities budget approved without rate hikes
Possibility of water, sewer consolidation will be studied
November 23, 2023
Steady rates at Wahkiakum County Public Utilites District was good news for the Board of Commissioners as they approved a nearly $8.5 million dollar budget for 2024 this week.
Commissioner Dennis Reid said that like Wahkiakum, a few utilities around the state were not increasing rates, but others were raising their rates anywhere between three and 17 percent.
“Anything double figures you want to avoid,” Reid said. “I just feel we are so fortunate that we’ve been able to present another budget another year with no rate increase. I know the days are coming when that won’t be, but I’m extremely happy we have another year with no rate increase.”
Wahkiakum PUD hasn’t seen any increases since four years ago, when water rates went up. The electric rate has remained the same for the last seven years.
General Manager Dan Kay updated the commissioners on the PUD’s continuing efforts to secure funding for local projects.
It included a recent meeting with state legislative representatives and the house capital budget chair to discuss the Puget Island water source project, he said, and applications were submitted for both senate and house appropriations requests. Kay reiterated that a similar application was already turned in to the governor’s office as well.
A feasibility study to investigate a possible consolidation of the town’s water and sewer systems is set to begin. Paperwork has been signed and returned to the Department of Health, which recently awarded the grant for the study to the PUD.
The PUD applied for a grant from the Department of Commerce for two Level 2 chargers after consulting Energy Northwest, Kay said, in preparation for what he believes is a coming mandate that will require utilities to switch their smaller fleets to electric vehicles.
Crews are continuing to work on new hook ups and replacing old poles tagged in testing in 2021.
“Hearing that we have new customers still coming online bodes well for the next yearly budget at this point,” Reid said, “but we have a legislative session coming up in a month and who knows what’s coming up. It’s all looking good.”