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News Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Council Roundup: Utilities presents proposed budgets

Also, Parks Yes! Committee recognized

Staff from the city's Utilities Department Monday briefed the City Council on the department's proposed 2009-2010 operating budget and 2009-2015 capital budget.Utilities workers install a new pipe for storm water.

The proposed budgets call for the average residential utilities customer to pay about $11 more each month in 2009 and $7 more each month in 2010. A typical residential utility bill would increase from $100.02 per month in 2008 to $111.56 per month in 2009 and $118.51 per month in 2010.

Staff told council members the proposed increases, which were the subject of earlier public hearings, are needed to a meet a number of critical issues facing the Utilities Department, including increases in wholesale water and wastewater costs, capital projects needed to support growth and the effects of increasing federal and state requirements.

Moreover, Bellevue, like many municipalities across the nation, faces serious challenges due to its aging water, sewer and storm water systems. The city maintains approximately 1,600 miles of utilities pipes and numerous water reservoirs, pump stations and other infrastructure. Half of this $3 billion worth of infrastructure is now past mid-life and failures are increasing. Significant investment is necessary to maintain safe and reliable systems and reduce water main breaks, sewer backups and flooding.

The Environmental Services Commission, which acts as a citizen advisory board at the direction of the City Council, previously reviewed the details of the proposed Utilities budget and rates. The Commission also reviewed information regarding the Utilities' Asset Management program, infrastructure Renewal and Replacement program, capital program and the status of failures and claims associated with failing infrastructure. 

The Commission determined that investing in needed personnel and capital projects now ultimately would be in the best interests of the ratepayers and utilities systems, fending off higher rate increases in the future.  

To meet infrastructure needs and become compliant with all state and federal regulations, the proposed budget calls for approximately $44 million in new capital investment during the next six years. The proposed budget also calls for 15 new positions. Ten of the requested positions would be for maintenance and operations work, three would be dedicated to delivering critical capital projects and two would be devoted to development, review and inspections related to the requirements of new federal storm water regulations.

The City Council is expected to act on the proposed budgets in early December.

Feedback: Wendy Skony, Utilities Community Relations Specialist, 425-452-5215 or wskony@bellevuewa.gov

Parks Yes! Committee recognized
The Bellevue City Council Monday acknowledged the efforts of the Bellevue Parks Yes! Steering Committee, the citizens' volunteer group that oversaw the successful campaign for a parks levy.

Merle Keeney, who served as chair of the volunteer group, introduced a number of citizens who were key to the campaign, including Karen Roper, Paul Wiegand, John Stokes and Lee Maxwell.   

Bellevue voters this month overwhelmingly approved the measure, with more than 66 percent voting in favor. 

"It really is a great testament to a lot of hard work by a lot of people to make this happen," Mayor Grant Degginger said. "The City of Bellevue and the people who live here believe that the parks are a great part of our quality of life, and they've recognized that once again. With the passage of the levy, we'll be able to continue to improve -- not only preserve natural areas but also to deliver some great new facilities that the public certainly wants and is supporting."

The levy, which will replace one due to expire this year, will provide $40.5 million to protect water quality in Bellevue's lakes and streams, preserve additional natural areas throughout the city, and expand and maintain recreational facilities for organized sports. The average homeowner will pay 12 cents per $1,000 of assessed value or $71 per year for the typical home in Bellevue.

Among the key projects funded by the levy will be:

  • Trail and natural area improvements in Coal Creek Park and Lewis Creek Park;
  • Completion of the loop trail around the waterfall and reflecting pond at Bellevue Downtown Park; 
  • Upgrades to synthetic turf for Wilburton and Newport Hills soccer fields;
  • Expansion of the Crossroads Community Center;
  • Improvements to the Bellevue Botanical Garden;
  • The addition of neighborhood parks in Bridle Trails and along West Lake Sammamish Parkway;
  • Redevelopment of Surrey Downs Park; and
  • Development of a new 27-acre community park in the Eastgate area along 156th Avenue Southeast.
  • The measure also includes funding to ensure that new parks are maintained and operated consistent with Bellevue's standards.

Feedback: Robin Haaseth, Parks & Community Services Public Information Officer, 425-452-6182 or rhaaseth@bellevuewa.gov

The Council Agendas and Council Minutes pages offer complete information regarding Council meetings.

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