Rate hikes needed for long-term benefits

Utility rate increases are never a popular subject and consumers are generally skeptical of the need for a rate increase.

It is often difficult for city staff to present a case for rate hikes that elected officials and citizens can support; however, after extensive study, a great deal of deliberation and opportunity for public comment, the Snoqualmie City Council unanimously approved new rates during their last meeting on March 27.

These new rates are needed not only to keep up with increasing labor and material costs, but also to enhance the overall reliability of our utility systems and to allow for numerous system improvements - especially in areas of long-term neglect. An investment now can save a great deal in later years if our infrastructure is repaired and maintained properly.

The bottom line is that these rates will enable our public works department to increasingly respond and plan in a proactive and sustainable fashion.

The two most significant projects involve:

1) the total replacement of the treatment process for the drinking water supply to Snoqualmie Ridge customers, which will finally address long-standing complaints about poor taste and smell, and

2) a complete overhaul of the sewer, water, storm and street infrastructure around the Mountain Avenue Southeast neighborhood by Meadowbrook Bridge.

Several other projects are detailed within the rate study document located on the city's Web site.

It is important to note that the resulting rate increases will still leave Snoqualmie residents with a bargain, as compared to other nearby communities like Carnation, Duvall, Issaquah, North Bend, Redmond and Redmond Ridge. Snoqualmie has greatly benefited from improvements provided by the Snoqualmie Ridge development. Previous councils, mayors and staff did an excellent job of assuring that developers paid the cost of required infrastructure improvements. We now enjoy a state-of-the-art waste water treatment facility that was bought and paid for through development.

It would be unfortunate to squander the tremendous progress the city has made in the past several years by not continuing to proactively adjust to current and future challenges. I can assure you that council, staff and I have and will continue to seek out every conceivable cost-saving measure and efficiency prior to asking for more of your hard-earned money. Our desire is to protect and improve the quality of life in Snoqualmie and deliver a high level of service to you and your family - a level that you deserve and expect.

Log on and visit the city's Web site at www.ci.snoqualmie.wa.us or contact myself or city staff for more information or to address any questions or concerns you may have.

Matt Larson

Mayor, City of Snoqualmie

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