The Puyallup City Council voted 5-2 Tuesday night to approve an ordinance that eliminates the usage rate surcharge to water utility customers living outside the city limits.
Nonresidents receiving water service from the city of Puyallup have paid a 50-percent higher rate than city residents.
The surcharge was imposed as a way to offset the difference in cost to provide service to those customers, which some council members say was justified based on state case law.
City Manager Bill McDonald had recommended the city postpone the vote in order to gather more data regarding the cost differences, but a majority of council members said debate over the issue has gone on long enough.
“We are beating a dead horse now,” said Councilman John Hopkins. “I don’t want to spend anymore money on this.”
In 2010, the city conducted a study looking at various factors in utility service and operations. The study did not address information related to cost differences to customers within city limits and nonresident customers. McDonald hoped to get more time to build on that study.
Councilman John Palmer, one of the no votes, supported McDonald’s effort to gather more data.
“I don’t know why we would rush,” Palmer said. “It is very justified to reduce the surcharge, but I would like to come back later after the city manager has done more work on this.”
Councilman John Knutsen said the issue is a matter of fairness, and said he would be happy to review information from city staff down the road if it is proven a rate hike for nonresident customers is justified.
“If the staff does a study and comes back with a number that shows we need to increase the rate … then we can revisit that,” Knutsen said.
Kari Plog: 253-597-8682