Utility ratepayers in the Village by the Sea will soon experience some modest increases.
This week, the Langley City Council unanimously approved increases for water, sewer and stormwater rates. The hikes were proposed by Public Works Director Randi Perry to keep pace with the rising costs of insurance, utilities, construction and materials.
For water, the rate increase is 4% and the participation fee increase is 4%. This amounts to a monthly increase of $1.69 or an annual increase of $20.25 in the base fee. This is down slightly from last year, when the rate increase for water was 6% and the participation fee increase remained the same at 4%.
For sewer, the rate increase is 3% and the participation fee increase is 4%, which amounts to a $1.88 increase per month, or $22.59 increase annually, in the base fee. Compared to last year, the approved rate increase was higher at 4%, and the participation fee increase was also 4%.
For stormwater, the rate increase is 4%. The dollar amount varies between customer classifications and ranges from 72 cents to $2.79 per month, or $8.67 to $33.47 annually. In 2022, the approved increase was also 4%.
No members of the public commented on the rate and fee schedule that Perry presented to the council.
Councilmember Gail Fleming said that while she understood the raises were necessary, they’re very difficult for many people. She asked if the city’s citizen-led Finance and Personnel Legislative Commission could look at the rates for people with second homes. In the past, the council has shown interest in finding a way to raise utility rates for owners of second homes, which are often left vacant during the wintertime.
“I just need to learn more about how the rates are calculated and understand the whole structure of all of that in hopes that somehow we can end up with a more equitable situation,” Fleming said.
Councilmember Thomas Gill said a discussion about rate structures is forthcoming in the sewer comprehensive plan. Perry confirmed that the plan will include a rate study, which will begin at the end of 2024.
Finance Director Wanda Grone reminded the council that some senior citizens and people with disabilities qualify for a reduction in water rates. The city offers a program with a 50% rate reduction for those who meet the low income qualifications.
In an email to The Record, Perry said the city sewer department will investigate offering discounted rates for qualifying residents for that portion of the bill as part of the comprehensive plan update beginning at the end of next year.
The utility rate increases that the council approved this week go into effect Jan. 1, 2024.