In a unanimous vote Monday night, the Bellevue City Council increased the city’s flat-rate water fee. The increase was below 5 percent and therefore did not require a public hearing before a vote. Beginning in December, residents will now pay $33.70 for their monthly water rate. The increase from $32.19 to the new rate is in response to a shortfall in the Water Department’s budget for fiscal year 2020.

The shortfall is due to a projection in the budget that accounted for a new metering system to begin charging based on water use in January. However, due to a delay installing a new program necessary to collect data on the metered system, the city has now opted to switch from the flat rate to the water-use rate next October, after residents have had four months between May and October to get meter readings and adjust their water use accordingly before the rate change.

Bellevue Water Superintendent Kelly West proposed the fee increase Monday by explaining that in addition to cuts being made within the budget, the increase would help to cover a small amount of the shortfall for the department. The budget passed by the City Council projected an income of $666,610 based on the meter system beginning in January.

According to City Clerk Marian Edwards, staff members are still working on creating a new department budget to propose to the City Council. The new budget will go through the same public hearing process as it did over the summer before the fiscal 2020 budget was passed.

In West’s initial memorandum to the council to propose the fee increase, he suggested the increase to begin Nov. 1, but council members debated and ultimately decided to implement the increase beginning Dec. 1, to give residents a heads-up that the increase is coming. By delaying the increase one month, the city is leaving $1,400-$1,500 uncollected, according to Edwards.

Strahorn process

In other Bellevue news, council members continued to make their way through the Strahorn subdivision planned-unit development and preliminary plat applications, passing a motion to continue the public hearing and application review to Oct. 28.

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