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Posted on: November 3, 2021

Commissioners' Corner (Issue 196)

196_NCC_Blevin

It has been a privilege to serve as your commissioner the

last two years. As I have had the opportunity to interact with

the public as a commissioner, I have had many of the same

questions asked of me. Many of you may also have these

same questions, so I’d like to address some of them here.

When I introduce myself as a Lakehaven Commissioner,

many people assume that I am employed full time by the

utility (with a nice salary). Well no, Lakehaven commissioners

are elected officials of a special purpose district that provides

water and sewer service. Lakehaven is like the school district and the fire district

in that they are governed by a board of elected officials. Commissioners are paid a

per diem of $128, for days we have meetings (pay limited to average of 9 meetings/

month). I put in time daily being a commissioner, so the compensation is merely a

stipend for someone like me that has several Master’s degrees.

The next question is often; “What does a commissioner do”? We are, in essence,

the equivalent of the city council for the utility. We make the ‘laws’ (set policy) for the

utility. We approve the budget, set rates, approve capital projects, and oversee the

General Manager and General Counsel. That also means that there are things we

don’t do. We don’t work for the City of Federal Way, and have no jurisdiction over

city policy. We have no control over the city taxation of our utility, nor can we do

anything we want on city property (like place facilities for the homeless in parks).

Another misconception about the utility is that the water and sewer service is

provided by the City of Federal Way. Tacoma is a city that provides water service to

some Lakehaven sewer customers, but the City of Federal Way is not in the utility

business. Lakehaven is its own governmental jurisdiction providing water and sewer

service. We have our own permitting, billing, and engineering departments.

People also assume that because we are a water utility that we take care of surface

drainage and stream quality. Surface water management is taken care of by the

public works departments of your city or the county. Rainwater needs to go into

the storm drainage system, not into the sewer system through the side sewer; it is

expensive and unnecessary to treat as wastewater.

Hopefully you now have a clearer

picture of what a commissioner

is, and how the utility is

separate from the city. Informed

customers appreciate the utility

more and can help make it better.

Since you have read this far in

the newsletter, thank you for

wanting to be informed.

Commissioner Corner Issue 196 - Nov/Dec  2021

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