Without a rate increase we would have to reconsider the pressing needs of our aging systems and prioritize those that are most critical to ensuring public and environmental health. We would be forced to defer major infrastructure projects, which would, in turn, leave our existing systems vulnerable. This short-term “gain” of no rate increases would only result in higher costs for needed upgrades, dramatic future rate increases, and possible increased regulatory oversight by permitting agencies in coming years – essentially kicking the can down the road.
There are also regulatory issues to consider. For example, the city’s wastewater treatment plant requires significant upgrades to meet mandated regulatory requirements. If we don’t make those upgrades, we will be out of compliance, which could result in fines and increased costs in the future.
In addition to these capital project issues, the City’s utility cash reserves would be depleted, leaving the utilities vulnerable. Cuts would be required to operations and maintenance, resulting in reduced staffing, compromising our ability to adequately maintain and operate our systems.
In a worst-case scenario, the state of Washington could take control of the utility and manage it without input from the City of Washougal.