2021-2022 Rate Information

Utilities rates are set every two years. The process of updating rates involves many levels of review and public outreach.

2021-2022 budget process

Utility rates are approved by City Council as part of the City’s biennial budget process. Before the proposed budget reaches City Council, it is thoroughly reviewed by the Environmental Services Commission, a 7-member citizen advisory commission. After a public hearing to review public comments, the Commission unanimously recommended that Council approve the Utilities proposed 2021-2022 budget and rates.

At its December 14 meeting, the Bellevue City Council adopted the 2021-2022 budget. New rates are slated to go into effect on January 1.

What considerations go into budget planning?

Bellevue Utilities makes budget decisions very carefully, based on the following objectives:

  • Maintaining stable and predictable rates to avoid large rate increases in the future
  • Keeping our rates competitive with neighboring cities
  • Meeting the long-term needs of our customers and community
  • Ensuring we provide the level of service expected by customers

Our rates cover the cost to provide you with safe, reliable services, maintain utility infrastructure, protect natural resources, and invest in system improvements that make your services better and serve our growing community.

Bottom line: we want to ensure customers get the value and quality of service you expect from us.

How has COVID-19 impacted budget decisions?

During these challenging times, Bellevue Utilities has worked hard to keep costs as low as possible while maintaining service quality. When proposing the 2021-2022 budget and rates, we worked to minimize rate impacts for all cost areas we can control. We have proposed no rate increase for local utility operations, and have reduced planned capital investments. Budget impacts are primarily the result of cost increases from external agencies that we can’t change or control.

2021-2022 proposed budget and budget drivers

Bellevue Utilities has a $321.8 million budget to cover operating expenses over the next two years. Utility services are funded through rates. The graph below show the drivers of utility costs for the next two years, broken down by cost area.

Graphic showing utility 2021-2022 budget broken into cost area - 53% external costs for regional water and wastewater providers, 30% capital investments, 17% local operations

What's included in these cost areas?

How will 2021-2022 rates impact the average utility bill?

This table shows the rate impact over the next two years broken down by cost driver for the typical single-family bill. Learn more about water, wastewater and stormwater service costs.

2021-2022 Typical single-family utility bill

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As the chart shows, rates will increase by 3.8% in 2021 and 3.9% in 2022. The majority of this increase is driven by costs paid to outside agencies. There are no rate increases to cover local utility operations.

How is Bellevue Utilities managing costs and keeping rates competitive?

We know rates impact our customers. We work hard to keep our costs low and our rates competitive with neighboring agencies, to ensure Bellevue remains a great place to live and work.

Here are some of the ways we are managing costs to help customers during the COVID crisis:

  • Capital project spending management – we are prioritizing the most important or critical capital projects and have reduced planned capital investments over the 2021-2022 budget period.
     
  • Local cost controls – we have implemented cost containment measures so that local operations do not drive a rate increase.
     
  • Payment assistance programs – we are providing flexible payment plans and waiving late fees during the crisis. We are also helping customers access available bill pay help, including the Emergency Assistance Program that can cover up to four months of basic utility charges. Learn more about Utility Rate Relief programs.

Why does Bellevue Utilities have to raise rates in a difficult time?

We recognize this is a very challenging time for many households and businesses, and have taken many steps to reduce rate impacts. These steps include containing local costs where possible and using reserve funds to manage revenue loss from COVID. We can’t control cost increase from external agencies or absorb these increases. That could critically impact our ability to continue current service levels to our customers and meet regulatory requirements.

We also can’t halt all investments in infrastructure for the budget season. Capital projects are carefully planned and prioritized. Some projects have been delayed but stopping work could lead to system failure and impact new developments, potentially causing more economic issues.

What help is available for customers struggling to pay utility bills?

We want to help customers feeling the financial impacts of COVID in every way possible. We can work with you to set up flexible payment plans or access available emergency financial assistance. During this time, you won’t face additional fees or charges for past-due payments.

Please call 425-452-6973 or email utilities@bellevuewa.gov so our customer service team can talk with you about your options or set up a payment plan that meets your needs.

In addition to rate relief programs for low-income seniors and customers with permanent disabilities, customers facing job or income loss may quality for help under the Emergency Assistance Program.

This program can cover up to four months of basic water, sewer and drainage service charges. To qualify, you must meet the program’s low-income guidelines for the past 30 days and not receive other Utilities financial assistance.

To learn more about the Emergency Assistance Program or other rate relief help, please contact 425-452-5285 or email UtilityRelief@bellevuewa.gov.