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Port of Allyn approves fees

Brewery arrival likely means more water needs

The Port of Allyn’s Dec. 5 public hearing, to address adjusting its water system’s residential and commercial connection fees, ended with commissioners unanimously adopting a three-tiered commercial connection fee scale, without adopting the proposed increase to residential connection fees.

Port Executive Director Lary Coppola said the port’s rates adjust annually on a scale adopted in 2019, running through the end of 2024, which needs to be reviewed and re-evaluated before the beginning of 2025.

The residential connection fee of $52.50 per three-quarter-inch line connection is meant to represent the cost of capital improvements for upgrades and expansions of the system.

“Our current charge is the cost of time and material to bring the hookup to the meter, plus a 15% administrative fee,” Coppola said. “That fee includes excavation service, tapping, meter box, meter reader installation and testing. The future system and development fees, for connections larger than 2 inches, and fire sprinkler service will be determined at that time, by the individual consumer and developer needs.

Coppola said the port is “by far” the lowest-cost municipal water system in Mason, Kitsap and Thurston counties, “and not by just a little bit, either.” As its system grows, Coppola sees its maintenance liabilities growing too.

“We need to be certain we can build enough reserves to cover the cost of future system equipment and infrastructure failures, without using reserves, interfund loans or outside financing,” said Coppola, who recommended a new residential connection fee of $84.95, with new commercial connection fees of $10,000 up to a 2-inch main single-line meter connection, tapped from a main system distribution line, increasing to $25,000 for up to 4 inches, and $40,000 for more than 4 inches.

“The developer, customer or owner is responsible for the cost and installation of any and all fire hydrants, as required,” Coppola said, adding that the 15% fee would continue to apply to all the aforementioned charges. “I’ve been asked what the commercial rate is on one project already. I know we have another one coming.”

Coppola said $84.95 is cheaper than any other provider in Mason or Kitsap counties.

“I think this is a reasonable increase,” Coppola said. “It doesn’t go off the deep end. It does bring us close to everybody else.”

With news that a brewery is likely arriving in Allyn, Coppola is already anticipating its water needs.

“We may end up extending the lines there,” Coppola said. “It’s going to be a substantial project for the water company.”

Port Commissioner John Sheridan asked for assurances the port wouldn’t be “sucking the aquifer dry.” Coppola replied that the aquifer “is in good shape.”

During public comment, Jeff Carey said he doesn’t disagree that the port needs to cover its costs, but he asserted that not all commercial water use is more than residential water use, especially residential retail and business use.

“Commercial (customers) need water quicker, in short durations, but at more volume,” Carey said, before he expressed concerns over Allyn’s residential growth. “All utilities need to set aside reserves for expansion.”

After Coppola clarified that any development that hasn’t yet been permitted would fall under the new rates, Carey asked the port to “please look at the big picture.”

Barry Betzinger proposed that, “if a commercial business comes in and asks us for more water than what we can provide, they need to bear at least some of the costs, if not all,” because “it may come to the point where we’ll need another pump, we’ll need another tank, we may need another well, and that really adds up to a lot of money.”

“At some point within the next five years, I expect we’re going to have to build another storage tank,” Coppola said. “Where we’re going to build it is a question, because we’re going to have to buy a piece of land, we’re going to have to run lines to it, and the cost of building it is not going to be cheap.”

When Ken VanBuskirk suggested the port consider joining with the Belfair water district in the future, because “there’s obviously going to be development between Belfair and Allyn,” Coppola countered that the Port of Allyn is the designated water provider for the Allyn Urban Growth Area.

“We’re going to be the ones delivering the water,” Coppola said. “We’re not going to have to compete with anyone else. That will be our service area.”

As the port commissioners continue to consider residential connection fees, Coppola pledged to supply a list of other water systems and their connection fees to the Port of Allyn’s next meeting.

Author Bio

Kirk Boxleitner, Reporter

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Shelton-Mason County Journal & Belfair Herald
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