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"City, McCormick Woods utility rates going up"

"Port Orchard and McCormick Woods residents will pay more for water and sewer services now that the City Council has passed a utility rate hike.City officials say the changes approved Nov. 22 mean a $4 (11 percent) increase in water and sewer rates for “typical” Port Orchard dwellings. Single-family dwellings on average will spend $38.72 per month on utility services, whereas before the rate increase, they spent $34.47. That means typical city residents will spend more than $15 for water and $23 for sewer services a month next year. McCormick Woods residents, who get their water and sewer service through the city, likewise will shell out an additional 11 percent. Their rates, on average, will jump from $51.71 to $58.08. In addition to regular utility rates, the city levies a 50 percent surcharge on McCormick Woods residents for water and sewer services.The rate hikes are expected to not only encourage water conservation among consumers, but provide for repairs and upgrades on the system until 2006, officials said.Even with the increase, Port Orchard is still the “best deal” for water and sewer services, officials say. For instance, assuming that utility rates remain stagnant elsewhere, Port Orchard residents will still pay less than other consumers across Kitsap County.Bainbridge Island residents pay $75.58 a month for water and sewer services, while Bremerton residents pay $64.90.Also on the rise in Port Orchard will be city water and sewer installation fees, as well as the sewer connection fee.Though water connection fees will remain the same at $750, sewer connection fees will go from $750 to $1,000 per dwelling unit. Current water and sewer installation fees are at $500 plus tax. Both would go up to $800 plus tax.“Installations and connection fees pay for necessary capital projects,” said city engineer Larry Curles. “The current financial standing of the system indicates that, without the rate increases, the city would be in the red by 2003 or 2004.”Different from basic water and sewer rates, these fees provide revenue sources for capital projects necessary to complement growth over the next five years, such as new wells and reservoirs. McCormick Woods is expected to experience the most growth.“A new reservoir, for instance, would cost about $600,000,” Curles said. “We’ll be able to pay cash for that reservoir without calculating debt into that rate.”Still, at least one Port Orchard resident thought an increased utility rate is a bad deal. “We’ve got a lot of poor people in this city,” Howard Minor, a former dentist and well-known landlord, told the council. “There are a lot of people who are trying to make ends meet.”"

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