Issaquah residents used less water this year, but they won’t pay less money for the savings.
City Council agreed to raise the water rate by 9 percent Monday. It comes to about $4-5 a pay period for the average home.
During rainy summers, like the past two years, residents use less water and therefore pay less in water fees.
However, the cost to maintain the water system doesn’t change, nor does its agreement with the Cascade Water Alliance.The rate increase will make up the difference. The city doesn’t use water fees to subsidize its budget.
The fee hike would provide a half-million dollar cushion that will keep the city’s water fund balance from falling below zero, said Jim Blake, the city’s finance director.
While the council agreed to raise water rates with one vote, it decided not to raise property taxes in another.
“It’s a reflection of the fact that we understand our citizens are having a hard time because of the economic downturn,” said Fred Butler, a city councilmember.
The city prides itself in not collecting a majority of its revenue through property taxes, relying instead on businesses, said Mark Mullet, a councilmember and business owner.
While the property tax vote was unanimous, it wasn’t without caution.
John Traeger, a councilmember on his way out of city politics this year, warned that inflation goes up, taxes would need to follow.