New Issaquah utility rates, assistance programs

Cost increase and low-income support in 2020.

Utility bills are changing in the year 2020 in Issaquah to help fund city services and new low-income assistance is available.

Ratepayers will see an increase in city utility rates and taxes for water, sewer and stormwater as of January. The change comes from previously adopted rates and also the Nov. 18, 2019, council adoption of the city’s final 2020 budget.

Simultaneously, city council also instructed staff to create new low-income utility assistance and update pre-existing low-income senior utility assistance. Much discussion on the potential impacts of raising utility costs took place in budget deliberations, and the council noted it hoped to adopt new assistance programs.

The new utility assistance programs were unanimously adopted at a Dec. 2 city council meeting.

Then-deputy council president Mariah Bettise at the time said, “As we faced looking at utility taxes and everything that we went through with the budget, this was incredibly important to me, and I was just really happy to see this in place.”

Across the board, the new utility tax rate for each of the three utilities is now 3%: water (previously 2.33%), stormwater (previously 0%) and sewer (previously 0%).

A table document on the city’s website gives an example of changes to a bi-monthly bill for an average single-family residence.

A 2019 water cost of $78.74 and utility tax of $1.83 changes to a 2020 water cost of $81.49 and utility tax of $1.83.

For sewer, a 2019 cost of $127.30 grows to a 2020 cost of $130.44, while the utility tax for that increases from $0 to $3.91.

For stormwater, a 2019 cost of $32.94 would increase to $33.92 and the utility tax would grow from $0 to $1.02.

Data presented at the Dec. 2 council meeting showed there were at least 1,200 Issaquah households — both owners and renters — that are either cost burdened or extremely cost burdened and fall into the extremely low-income category. The administration anticipated that those households would most likely all qualify for the new utility assistance programs.

More information about the low-income utility assistance programs can be found online at http://issaquahwa.gov/3180/Low-Income-Assistance.

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