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Bridgeport hikes rates

— The city’s sewer rates are going up, but not as much as anticipated.

The City Council has adjusted next month’s increase so it will be 6 cents less than previously announced.

The decision was made May 8 via resolution, city Finance Director Lisa Stark said.

A $10 rate increase was approved Jan. 23, but the council changed it to $9.94 last week to even out the utility bill.

“The bill will be an even $97 for base water, sewer, garbage and ambulance,” Stark said. That includes the coordinating bump in taxes.

The new basic sewer rate, to go into effect June 1, will be $46.48. Another rate increase was approved last year, both to help pay for the city’s $5 million wastewater treatment plant improvements that began earlier this spring.

The construction got into full swing Monday, Public Works Director Stuart Dezellem said. Crews with Kennewick-based Apollo Inc. have finished pre-excavation of the structures as well as de-watering the pumps to dry out the ground in preparation for concrete.

“They have a fairly aggressive work schedule,” Dezellem said.

Phase one of construction involves installing a secondary clarifier and aeration basin by October. Between December and March, the crews will work on the wiring to bring the new clarifier and ditch online, he said.

Phase two, scheduled to begin next spring, will involve rehabilitation of the current clarifier and cleaning out the current oxidation ditch.

The work will be done to prevent any interruptions to sewer service.

The work should be complete by next summer, and Apollo is on track to finish on time, Dezellem said.

With a city population of 2,409, according to the 2010 U.S. census, the wastewater treatment plant is operating beyond capacity, according to a fact sheet posted to the city website.

Much of the equipment hasn’t been upgraded since the facility, located on the corner of First Street and Fairview Avenue, was built in the 1950s.

The improvements are expected to accommodate population growth for the next 20 years.

The city received a low-interest, 30-year $5 million Washington State Public Works Trust Fund loan in 2011 and a $1 million Community Development Block Grant last year to complete the project.

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