Rate Increase Information
Effective January 1, 2019, wastewater rates increased by 3.5%, water rates by 4%, and storm water rates by 3.5%. These rate increases are part of a series of multi-year increases adopted by the City Council in 2015 to cover the costs of replacing aging infrastructure, regulatory requirements, and to keep up with growth demands. The adopted increases are a result of a 2015 Utility Rate Study (PDF) that took into consideration the operating costs, capital needs, and regulatory requirements of the three utilities. The rate study also evaluated and recommended substantial increases in the fees for new utility connections (new construction).
City Projects Funded by Rate Increase
Some examples of the capital projects being funded by the City’s utilities include but are not limited to the following:
- The wastewater treatment plant operational and capacity improvements.
- Replacement of various aging asbestos-cement water mains.
- Retrofitting and/or replacement of several aging sewer lift stations throughout the City of Gig Harbor including Lift Station 4B / Welcome Plaza.
- Water Well development for improved performance during peak demands, fire flow, and redundancy.
Comparison of Rates
The City acknowledges that its capital projects as well as keeping up with new regulatory changes and growth demands are costly. That said, we believe our rates, in total, are comparable with utilities in other smaller jurisdictions like ours. In addition, the City’s utility, property, and other local taxes are generally lower than nearby cities in Pierce County.
Reducing City Costs
The City has also been able to help alleviate capital costs by aggressively securing low interest (0.25%) loans and grants ($3.5 million) from the State. Keeping operational costs down is also a high priority for the City. For example, the City employs seven people to run the City's wastewater collection and treatment system, which is a 24/7 operation.
Running the entire system involves maintaining approximately 40 miles of pipe, processing approximately 1 million gallons of sewage per day, and managing many moving parts-not just at the treatment plant, but also the various lift stations throughout the city, some of which are more than 35 years old. The wastewater system employees have made great strides in improving the efficiency of the plant, including the reduction of energy consumption and the use of technology to increase labor and the overall treatment plant productivity.
For questions or suggestions, contact Public Works Director Jeff Langhelm at 253-853-7630.