(By Brandon Hansen/Chewelah Independent)
The Independent looks at what you and neighboring cities pay…
With the topic of utility rates coming up at the last Chewelah City Council open forum, The Independent took a look at some surrounding towns and what they charge for their services and compared them to the City of Chewelah.
We’re trying to break things down to the simplest rates, so we’re using what a single family residential home would pay. If a user is using a considerable amount of electricity then their rate tends to go up once they reach certain measuring thresholds.
In the article we will mention base charges. It has to be noted that residents on their own systems don’t have to pay these bases, they at one point had to install a well, a septic system and install electricity to their property.
Base rates support the physical plant (water wells, pipes & distribution lines; wastewater treatment plant & collection system, power grid). The city purchases power from Bonneville Power Administration, so when they increase their rates, the city has to pass that on to the consumer.
Chewelah charges seven cents per kilowatt hour if the residential user is not going over 1,300 kilowatts on their meter. This is significantly lower than Avista’s rate of .079 but higher higher than City of Cheney’s own electrical rate of six cents per kilowatt hour. The average American household uses 901 kilowatts per month.
Chewelah’s electrical base charge – an amount charged before the meter begins running – is $6.36 a month which is again significantly cheaper than Avista’s $8.50 base and the City of Cheney’s base charge of $10 (acquired from a bill from a Cheney resident by the Independent).
Cheney – it must be noted – is five times the size of Chewelah in terms of population.
The Pend Oreille County Utilities District, goes about electricity a bit differently. They have a more expensive electrical base of $29.50 but charge five cents per kilowatt hour.
The City of Chewelah’s water bases vary from $30.45 for an in-town resident at the golf course to $37.95 for an out-of-city limits resident. This base isn’t much more expensive than Colville’s rate of $28.66 a month for an in-town resident, and cheaper than Colville’s out-of-town water base of $38.66.
The City of Colfax has similar water rates with $26.37 for their smallest meter. Newport charges $28.10 for their smallest water meter which covers usage up to 10,000 gallons.
Kettle Falls has the cheapest water base in the group of $17 a month for in-town and $33 for out-of-town.
Spokane – which must be noted has exponentially more people and therefore can charge less because more people benefit and pay for the service – has a $15.80 water base.
When it comes to how much Chewelah charges for usage, it ranks among the cheapest. The base covers the first 5,000 gallons, and they then charge 70 cents per thousand gallons up to 10,000.
The average family of four uses 9,600 gallons a month.
Kettle Falls charges a flat rate of 75 cents per thousand gallons and the base covers no usage.
Colfax charges 78 cents, while Colville charges 73 cents. Spokane charges 30 cents per 750 gallons or “units.”
The City of Chewelah’s sewer base is 68.50, which is cheaper than Colville’s base of 73.03 for a single-family unit. Kettle Fall’s sewer rate is 65.50 while Newport’s is 39.40 and Colfax charges 28.20.
Chewelah charges 25.20 per month for a 64-gallon toter. A 32-gallon can in Kettle Falls costs 22.50. Colville contracts with Sunshine Disposal and their rates are 36.88 for a 64-gallon tote and 25.60 for one “can.”
Colville and Colfax charge storm rates while Chewelah does not. Colville’s storm base is four dollars, while Colfax’s storm base is 2.16.
Colville has a six percent tax on water, sewer and storm utilities. Cheney has a six percent tax on electrical utilities, a 4.75 percent tax, a garbage tax of six percent, a sewer tax of 11 percent, a residential street tax of four percent and a water tax of 11 percent. Chewelah’s tax on electric is six percent while the water, sewer and garbage tax is 17 percent, These taxes are already built into the rate as opposed to added onto the rate meaning the numbers already represented are the true amount.