Letter to the editor: No 30-year wastewater contract with Mountlake Terrace

Editor:

Are Edmonds residents subsidizing other communities by entering into long-term wastewater contracts of 30 years, possibly contributing to utility cost inflation for Edmonds residents over the long term?

Affordability is a hot topic in today’s modern world. One thing that is of affordability factor is long-term local utility costs.

Utility cost are specifically sensitive to our fixed-income senior citizens, to our disabled veterans on fixed income, and our hardworking single-parent households relying on one income. The last five years I believe utility costs have gone up 40%-50% on average in Edmonds, in looking at my own utility bill cost. On Nov. 19 council will be given a utility proposal — “covering the years 2020-2022 — calls for a 5% annual increase in sewer rates, a 4.5% hike in water rates and a 9.5% increase in stormwater rates. To minimize utility rate increases, the city is also looking to sell bonds to fund $10 million for the city’s portion of a project to replace the wastewater treatment plant’s aging sludge incinerator” —quoting MEN article. At the same time the city council is considering this proposal, the city is also looking to approve a 30-year contract to continue to take neighboring Mountlake Terrace community wastewater. Considering the fact that just two months ago Mountlake Terrace approved a 6,600-resident Town Center development (see link below), how can a small community of Edmonds take on a long-term obligation with a community in the middle of increasing their population by 33% with just this one development as an example?

Economic forecasting related to cost is extremely difficult; it’s frankly impossible to go out 30 years. I don’t need to see the details of the contract between Mountlake Terrace and Edmonds to know the risk is to our Edmonds’ community and the advantage goes to Mountlake Terrace over the long run. It’s time to seriously take a look at our spiraling out-of-control utility inflation in Edmonds. First step is to enter into a shorter-term contract with our neighbors regarding wastewater contracts, and reduce the risk of deferred maintenance cost of our aging utility infrastructure being paid for by the brunt of Edmonds residents in the future. If Mountlake Terrace wants to encourage 12-story buildings, they can build their own treatment facility if they don’t want to agree to a shorter contract — and I’m guessing we achieve better terms for Edmonds. A more proportional cost-savings approach and sharing of the financial burden and risk moving forward should be in order and is partially achieved by entering into shorter contracts.

For the record, I think the Town Center is a good option for that neighborhood to integrate into the future light rail lines, but Edmonds can’t afford to be subsidizing other communities’ utilities. We have our own needs and fiscal challenges (Waterfront Senior Center and Civic Park).  I realize there is other state and grant funding sources regarding Edmonds utility funding, but clearly, they have not been generous enough to stabilize our growing utility costs for our community.

Please email your councilmembers and ask them to take a more detailed look at this contract and shorten the agreement duration from 30 years. Should be considered at a minimum for the good of our residents who are asking them to look out for us: council@edmondswa.gov

Mountlake Terrace Town Center approved (4.5 miles from downtown Edmonds!): seattletransitblog.com/2019/09/27/mountlake-terrace-approves-plans-for-town-center-upzone/

Michael McMurray
Edmonds

 

2 Replies to “Letter to the editor: No 30-year wastewater contract with Mountlake Terrace”

  1. There is also an Edmonds City Tax on ALL utilities. The higher the Utility rates, the more Edmonds City Tax is collected. …sigh!

    Ignored

  2. Totally agree with Mr. McMurray ‘s points here. I would characterize Waterfront Center and Civic Park more as
    “wants” than “need”s but they certainly are “fiscal challenges” that now have to be met. The last thing our city needs to be doing is insuring that another city has adequate infrastructure of any kind unless it is to our major economic benefit to do so. The Council should have to document with facts and figures that these municipal alliances are to the absolute benefit to Edmond’s citizens. Hopefully the new Mayor and Council will come back down to earth and start facing and solving EDMOND’S problems, instead of everyone else’s.

    Ignored

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