WASHINGTON CITY – Washington City residents will see part of their sewer rates increase next month due to a rate hike originating in St. George.
St. George officials recently approved a $25 million construction contract for the expansion of its wastewater treatment plant. To help cover part of that cost, as well as the cost of maintenance for the city’s overall sewer infrastructure, the St. George City Council voted last month to increase sewer fees by 45 percent.
As the city’s wastewater treatment plant is also used by Washington City and other neighboring municipalities, St. George is passing along a monthly $2.12 rate increase.
“This is on the (sewage) treatment only,” Mike Shaw, Washington City’s public works director, told the City Council during its meeting Wednesday evening.
The additional $2.12 will raise the city’s sewer treatment charge from $7.50 to $9.62. City residents also pay an additional $10.22 for sewer collection.
This will raise the city’s overall monthly sewer fees from $17.72 to $19.84 for many residents. Those who live in developments where the sewer system requires a lift station pay an additional $6.27.
Among the council members who weren’t very pleased with the increase was Kolene Granger, who asked Shaw if he felt Washington City was being treated fairly in this instance. Shaw replied he believed it was since the rate is being applied equally to other cities that use the treatment plant.
“This is a pass-on rate,” said City Manager Roger Carter, who stressed that the increase in the sewer treatment fee was in response to St. George raising the cost of using its wastewater treatment plant.
The rate increase is one that can’t be absorbed by the city, both Shaw and Carter said, so the cost was passed on to the city’s water users.
Carter compared the action to cities that raise property taxes to cover the cost of laws and programs passed by the state Legislature that leaves it to local governments to fund.
“I don’t like to raise rates – ever,” Granger said.
Despite some reservations, the City Council voted to approve the rate increase.
The increased rate will take effect in August, Shaw said.
The City Council also held a public hearing for a zone change request for the second phase of the Sunwood Homes at Bella Vista development located in the area of 900 East and 200 North just off Bella Vista Drive and covering 35 acres.
The developer requested a change that would allow for six multifamily structures, 46 single-family homes and a short-term rental overlay for the majority of the project.
Residents of neighboring subdivisions spoke against the development. Most of the comments revolved around opposition to the proposed short-term rental overlay and claims that the overall project would negatively impact the character of the neighborhood.
“We don’t need more (short-term rentals),” one Bella Vista resident said. “We have too much in Washington already.”
The city’s Planning Commission had approved the development with the exception of the multifamily homes and short-term rental overall.
The City Council will vote on the requested zone change at its next meeting in two weeks.
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