Sewer District Consolidation
Many governments are looking for ways to be more efficient for taxpayers. In 2005, the City of Lake Stevens and the Lake Stevens Sewer District entered into an agreement that created a unified sewer system. Lake Stevens recently passed an ordinance to have the Sewer District integrate its operations into the City Public Works Department. Consolidation saves money for taxpayers, better manages growth, enhances economic development, and means one less government agency.
The cost-savings for taxpayers are significant. An independent analysis shows that a consolidation is projected to save as much as $595,000 in the first three years. These savings are a result of combining accounting, human resources, facilities and IT departments to eliminate duplication of services. A merger also will provide better prices for goods and professional services due to economies of scale.
A City sewer utility will better manage growth and enhance economic development. The City is responsible for planning and development within the city limits and urban growth area. However, the Sewer District makes decisions on whether or not to extend service, and the two governments can have different priorities. For example, the Sewer District makes more revenue from housing developments while the City wants service extended to industrial and commercial areas to bring jobs to the community. Consolidation will allow the City to determine when and where growth happens to reduce impacts to area residents.
Consolidating services means less government, as well. Lake Stevens has elected City Councilmembers. The Sewer District has an elected Board of Sewer Commissioners. The consolidation will eliminate salaries for Sewer Commissioners and save on future election costs. Ratepayers will still have representation through the Lake Stevens City Council, which will set sewer rates annually in a public hearing.
Here’s a list of frequently asked questions you may have as the City completes the process of consolidation:
What’s the process to integrate the Sewer District into the City Public Works Department?
The Lake Stevens City Council passed an ordinance to complete the process at its December 8 meeting. The ordinance takes effect no sooner than 90 days after adoption.
Why is the City doing this now?
Integrating the Sewer District now means cost savings and efficiencies for taxpayers. It also will help the City better manage growth and enhance economic development, which is called for in the Lake Stevens Comprehensive Plan.
Will sewer rates increase as a result of consolidation?
No, the existing sewer rates have already been established for 2021.
How will I be billed for sewer service?
Billing services will remain the same.
Will people lose their jobs at the Sewer District?
By law, the City is required to offer employment to all operations staff at the Sewer District. There will be some consolidation of administrative staff as people retire or seek other employment. There also will no longer be a government board of sewer commissioners.
Who can I contact with more questions?
Updates can be found here on the City’s website. Mayor Brett Gailey also is available to answer questions at (425) 407-3497 or email@example.com.