Curbside pickup back in front of the WUTC

By Meg Olson

Point Roberts garbage rates will be put before the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (WUTC) again on November 30 with no substantial changes from those proposed by the local garbage hauler in October.

“The company has submitted revisions but they are not revising the rates proposed,” said WUTC communications manager Kate Griffith.

Freedom 2000 has filed a tariff revision that would go into effect January 2019 to implement changes in county code adopted May 2018 eliminating exemptions to garbage collection for residential properties on the Point. The new rates would generate an additional $398,000 of revenue as the company would be mandated to serve an additional 1,800 customers under the new rules.

WUTC staff is recommending approval of the new tariff with a requirement for a compliance filing in August 2019 and August 2020 to allow staff to make sure the new rates pay for the cost of expanding service to a larger customer base without generating unreasonable profit to the provider. The company has agreed to the request.

“Commission staff has reviewed the company’s books and records, and the proposal by the company, and found that if the company had filed a rate case for just the current service provided to the current 300 customers, the company would be entitled to approximately $34,000 in additional revenue,” stated the staff report, which would translate to an increase in rates to current customers of over 18 percent.

With an additional 1,800 customers and taking into account the additional cost of service and investment, the proposed rates for the county mandated every-other-weekly garbage pickup would increase by 8.1 percent.

The rate case went before the commission on October 11 asking for approval with less than statutory notice to the commission, though customer notifications had been sent within the statutory notice period. Commissioners could find no need for the rush approval and put the matter off first until October 19 and then until the upcoming November meeting.

The delay was also intended to allow staff to work with the applicant to address some procedural issues and to address questions from community members about how multi-family properties were being served.

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