OTHELLO — The Othello City Council voted unanimously on Monday to raise sewer rates 12.5 percent per year over the next three years.
The sewer rate increase will help pay for a new $25-$30 million sewage treatment facility which the city will have to build at some point in the future.
In 2019, a single-family residence in Othello will pay $51.18 per month for sewer service, compared with $45.49 per month this year. By 2021, that same household will pay $64.78 per month.
For single-family residences that are outside Othello but are connected to city water and sewer services, sewer rates will rise in 2019 to $76.77 per month from the current $68.24. By 2021, non-city households will pay $97.16 per month.
“The water keeps increasing and increasing, and we can’t afford it anymore,” said Julie Arriaga, who lives on Cunningham Road west of the Othello city limits. “You need to take that into consideration.”
A number of homes and businesses around Othello voted to create Adams County Water District No. 1 and then were connected to the city’s sewer and water services after it was discovered their septic tanks and wells were failing, according to Mayor Shawn Logan.
Logan said the incremental increases were necessary to help guarantee the city’s water supply, and were better than an immediate doubling or tripling of sewer rates.
“You already have,” Arriaga said.
“I mean overnight,” Logan responded.
Council member John Lallas said residents living outside the city could “sign a petition requesting annexation into the city” in order to get lower city sewer and water rates. Otherwise, they didn’t really have any other options.
“We provide services to you that tax our system, and it’s extremely expensive, but what’s your alternative?” he asked.
“Exactly,” Arriaga responded.
The city council also voted unanimously to renew its contract to provide water and sewer services to Adams County Water District No. 1. According to a September 2016 report from Varela & Associates available on the Othello city web site, the firm which handles engineering for the city, roughly 1,100 people served by over 300 sewer and water connections live in the tiny district west of town.