County council approves utility franchise fee for right-of-way use; public comment period closes Dec. 7

Earlier this month, the King County Council approved a new fee for utility franchises using county right-of-way that could lead to an increase of about $5 per month on county customers’ electric, gas, water, and sewer bills.

The fee (Chapter 6.27.080 of the King County code) won’t be implemented until the King County Facilities Management Division has completed drafting the rules for calculating it. That process is now under way.

Members of the public can comment on the fee by using the online form at http://www.kingcounty.gov/depts/facilities-management/real-estate-services/public-rule-proposal.aspx, or by sending written comments to Terri Hansen, Project Manager, Facilities Management Division, 500 Fourth Ave. Suite 800, Seattle, WA 98104. All comments must be received by 5 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 7.

The fee will be based on the per-square-foot land value of property adjacent to the right of way, adjusted by a factor, currently set at 10 percent, to reflect the difference between assessed value and fair market value of real estate in the county. The rate will also be adjusted according to whether the utility line is overhead or underground.

Customer protection is built into the fee structure, as well. If the fee, which is likely to be passed on to consumers, is calculated to cost more than $5 per month extra on customers’ utility bills, the fee will be reduced to a maximum customer cost of $5 per month.

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