Okanogan city hall

OKANOGAN – Residents of Okanogan can expect utility rates to rise in 2020.

Setting the fee schedule is part of the annual budgeting process. The city council, during its Oct. 15 meeting, conducted public hearing on the proposed fee schedule and later approved a first reading of the proposal.

No public comments were received.

In a separate action, the council approved a 1 percent property tax increase for 2020.

Water and sewer rates, plus a variety of fees from swimming pool admissions to gravesite opening and building permits, are included in the fee schedule. Garbage rates are separate, but they’re also expected to rise, city officials said.

Under the water rate schedule, the residential base rate is proposed to go from $51.09 per month to $57 for the first 3,000 gallons used. Each additional 1,000 gallons used in a month would cost $2.50, up from $2.25.

Other water rates also would rise.

In the sewer area, the base rate for a single-family residence would go from $51.15 to $52.95. Other rates – such as for businesses or users outside the city limits – also would rise.

For other areas, animal impound fees would cost pet owners $40 for the first impound, with increasing amounts to $200 for the fourth.

Most swimming pool fees would remain the same, although a 10-unit swim pass for children under age 18 would drop from $15 to $10, and adult single admission would go from $7 to $5. Adult lap swim admission would be $2, while a five-unit adult swim pass would drop in price from $30 to $15.

Pool party fees would drop unless more than three lifeguards are needed.

“I don’t believe the city could ever charge enough to pay for its swimming pool,” so the reasoning is to reduce some rates and go for higher-volume usage, said Attwood.

At the Central Valley Sports Complex, the city proposes raising adult league fees by $5 per team, to $315.

Okanogan School District and youth leagues also would pay more for use of fields, with the school fee going from $650 to $700 and the youth league fee going from $65 per team to $70.

Grounds preparation would be charged separately.

Airport hangar fees also would increase, with the monthly fee for the city-owned wood hangar going from $150 to $160 per month for the large bay and $60 to $65 for the smaller bay. Block hangar rental would to from $100 to $105 per month, while the ground lease amount for privately owned hangars would run from 8 cents per square foot per year to 12 cents.

An airport trailer space rental fee still is under discussion, Attwood said.

At the cemetery, endowment fees for continued support and maintenance of grave sites would rise, as would fees for setting headstones, exhumation fees and winter burials.

A second and final reading of the fee ordinance is planned during the Nov. 5 meeting, which starts at 7 p.m. at city hall, 120 N. Third Ave.

Under the city’s sanitation contract with Sunrise Disposal, a yearly increase can be sought by the company. The proposed increase by Sunrise is 2.9 percent, with the city adding another 1 percent increase.

The one-can residential rate would go from $16.44 to $16.83 per month. Pickup of a 65-gallon cart would rise from $20.90 to $21.39 per month.

The 1 percent property tax increase, which was approved on second reading, would generate an additional $3,137 per year for city coffers. Total property tax collection would rise from $313,664 this year to an estimated $316,801 next year.

City officials propose allocating the money to the general fund, $69,379; street fund, $237,917, and cemetery fund, $9,505.

Attwood said revenue could go down if the city’s overall levy rate drops. In 2018, for example, the city’s levy rate was $2.62 per $1,000 of assessed property value, while this year it dropped to $2.49 per $1,000 of assessed value.

The city’s 2020 budget is still being developed. A council budget workshop, which is open to the public, is set for 5:30 p.m. Oct. 29 at city hall.

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