Seattle City Councilmember Bruce Harrell

Archive for the 'Finance & Budget Committee' Category

Feb 04 2009

Water Rate Surcharge?

History: Until January 1, 2005, the City funded fire hydrant services through water rates. On March 1, 2005 the Lane v. City of Seattle case was filed. The suit claims the City’s method of charging Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) customers for fire hydrants through water bills was an improper means to an end. The practice of funding fire hydrant services has since been corrected. SPU now charges the General Subfund (GF) and other governmental customers, which include King County and the City of Shoreline for hydrant services.

Late in 2008, the Washington State Supreme Court ruled that the City was not justified in charging the fire hydrant costs to the ratepayers during March 2002 to December 2004. SPU was required to refund to water ratepayers a total amount of $20,346,660, plus interest at 12% until paid, less any amounts paid for attorneys’ fees and expenses. A court order also required the City’s GF to pay SPU $13,553,286 plus interest at the rate of 3.18% by April 30, 2009.

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