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Yelm’s past poor decisions now come home to roost –
Water, sewer rate increases proposed, storm-water increases approved

Photo credit: City of Yelm Government Facebook

Story highlights
* The previous mayor and complicit councilors voted water rate increases 2009-2015 inclusive.
* Yet the city deferred Public Works upgrades/maintenance since 2008.
* Lack of necessary infrastructure reinvestment has brought Yelm to a critical point.
* Councilors Carmody, DePinto, Stillwell raised these issues in their 2015 campaigns.
* Consultants presented their findings Sept. 11 to the Mayor, City Council, Staff.
* Counselor DePinto honed in on Yelm’s current status (see his quote at bottom).
* City is “catching up in terms of system reinvestment…not even funding depreciation.”
* Multiple year water/sewer rates increases suggested, Council to consider.
* Storm-water rate increases were passed by the Council.
* Yelm’s property owners are soon to get water, sewer, storm-water rate increase sticker-shock.

On Monday, September 11th, the Yelm City Council, Mayor and city Staff received a sobering report from fee consulting agency FCS Group’s two financial experts. They presented their recommendations for a gradual funding of Yelm’s water and sewer operation and infrastructure beginning in 2018 and spanning 5 years.

– From the City of Yelm Study Session Minutes of September 11th
“Principal Angie Sanchez and Project Manager Sergey Tarasov from FCS Consulting Group gave a presentation on water, sewer rates and Sewer System Development charges. They discussed operating and maintenance costs, capital costs, existing debt obligation, growth rate projections, financial policies and targets to meet the needs of Yelm. They presented information and rate studies that would allow for capital improvements in each utility. They also provided information for the council to decide the level of services and debt obligations versus rate increases and the future needs for upgraded facilities and employees to operate these facilities. The Council discussed different scenarios for utilities. Grant opportunities will be explored to mitigate any rate increases. This discussion will keep moving forward and will come back to Council at a future Study Session.
Councilmember Carmody would like to discuss late fees and utility bills. Mayor Foster stated this issue will be researched by the new Finance Director and a recommendation will be brought to council in the near future.”
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– Councilor Joe DePinto honed in on the key issue:
“That’s kind of what I thought we were doing now is playing catch up because we haven’t been investing,” Councilor Joe DePinto said to FCS Group Principal Angie Sanchez.

Sanchez responded, “You’re still catching up in terms of system reinvestment. You are currently not even funding depreciation at this time.”

Posted by Steve on September 25, 2017 at 12:01 am | Permalink

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