Sequim water, sewer fee change cuts cost for some builders

By Joe Smillie
Peninsula Daily News

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SEQUIM –– The City Council has approved a change to water and sewer hookups that will cut the cost of building new multi-tenant commercial buildings.

In one dramatic example, City Manager Steve Burkett pointed to a developer who is considering constructing a multi-unit building in the city.

That builder, whom he would not identify because the project is still under consideration, would have been charged more than $400,000 to hook into the water system under the old rule.

The new fee schedule approved Monday night would drop that to $82,000.

The city charges new building owners a general facility charge to hook into its sewer and water systems.

Those charges had been levied based on the number of units in each building as if each were a new residence.

The new rule, approved unanimously at Monday's council meeting, charges to hook up water and sewer based on the size of the meter connecting the building to city pipes.

Those who use less water, said City Engineer David Garlington, will now not have to pay as much because of smaller-sized meters on the buildings.

Burkett said office buildings do not use the same amount of water as residential buildings.

“The [fee] is to make sure new buildings pay for the cost of providing them with water and sewer infrastructure,” Burkett said.

“But it should be just for the water they're going to use. We shouldn't charge them more than their fair share.”

Reducing the fees will cut the revenue the city collects on new construction, Burkett said, though he had no estimates on how much.

“If somebody does build a building like this, we will get less revenue,” he said.

“But if they don't build that building because of the [fee], we get zero revenue.”

Also Monday night, the council approved an application for a $520,000 grant from the state's Public Works Trust Fund to purchase new pumps for the aerobic digester system at the city's wastewater reclamation plant.

Public Works Director Paul Haines said the existing aeration system, purchased secondhand from Port Angeles, uses enormous amounts of electricity to run.

The new system, he said, is expected to save the city $54,306 in energy costs over the next 20 years.

Haines added that the Clallam Public Utility District has offered to provide the city $36,889 as an incentive to cut energy use.

The state would charge 0.5 percent interest to the city, which would repay the loan over the next 10 years at $53,321 per year.

The pumps were scheduled to be replaced in five years, Haines said, but the loan and energy incentives available now make the project more affordable.

Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Joe Smillie can be reached at 360-681-2390, ext. 5052, or at

Last modified: April 23. 2013 6:23PM
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