New City Tax: Why your Sewer Bill is Going Up
Your monthly bill has gone up – that’s because the Bainbridge City Council voted on November 22 to impose a 6% utility tax on the sewer district. The city didn’t tell us that they passed the tax – we only found out by reading the newspaper. This new tax is apparently intended for the city’s general fund.
For years, the city has collected this tax from water and sewer customers on the city’s system in Winslow. Some city councilmembers told us that they believe it’s fairer to levy the tax on all water and sewer customers island wide. But they didn’t do that. Instead, they voted to only tax the Fort Ward sewer system, the KPUD water system and other government and for profit systems. This means that about three-fourths of the island’s population is still exempt from the tax.
Since we didn’t receive official notice from the city about this tax until after Christmas, we have been scrambling to work out the details, which is why your sewer bill is later than normal.
Your bill is going up about 3%, even though the city tax is 6% on sewer district revenues. That’s because the city says the revenue we receive from them for providing treatment for about 290 connections outside the district is exempt from the tax. (The city already collects the tax from those customers.) But our contract with the city requires us to charge the same rate for customers, whether they are inside or outside the district. So we are spreading the burden across all of our customers, including about 290 connections for homes outside the district.
We commissioners believe that sewer service is not a luxury item – it is a basic, essential service. That’s why we do our best to keep your bills low; in fact, your monthly sewer rates are about half what the city charges its customers.
If you would like to comment on this new tax imposed by the city, you can reach your city councilmembers via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.