As I sit down to write this, 2022 is rapidly coming to a close. Thanksgiving has come and gone and the holiday season is in full swing. Yes, I realize you will be reading this in January or February, and the holidays will be a memory, but I wanted to say that I hope you had a wonderful holiday season no matter which holiday you and your family observe.
We here at Lakehaven are excited with the coming of the New Year. If things continue at the current pace, our office personnel will move into the New Headquarters Facility starting around the first of the year, followed by our field crews who will relocate from the Lakota Wastewater Treatment Plant. Once the move is complete, the existing building will be demolished and the rest of the parking area and landscaping will be completed. The Federal Way Police Department and South King Fire & Rescue may practice breaching techniques on the old office prior to demolition. Lakehaven plans on having a formal dedication and open house when the weather warms up, possibly in March. Watch our website and the Federal Way Mirror for dates and times. We hope to see you there.
Inflation: it’s a dirty word, but also a fact of life over the past year or so. It is hitting Lakehaven just like everyone else and has increased our costs by approximately one million dollars for both water and sewer operations. Supply chain issues have also negatively impacted operations and caused project delays.
Every two years the District does a comprehensive rate study, where the Operation and Maintenance budget and Capital Improvement Program are looked at in detail to see what costs will be incurred over a ten-year period. The rates, as well as fees and charges, are then examined to see what adjustments are needed to cover the anticipated costs. Historically we have used 4% as an inflation factor year to year.
The last rate study, done in 2021, showed that, for water, we needed rate increases of 4.75% per year for the next five years. Because of new regulatory requirements for wastewater treatment and aging equipment at the treatment plants that need to be replaced, the study showed that sewer rates needed to be increased by 10.5% per year for four years to cover capital improvement (before going down after that).
Unfortunately, the extra million dollars spent has taken our reserves in the sewer fund to a lower level than we found acceptable and we determined to increase the sewer rate by 12.5% this year. The Board realizes that, while necessary, this is a large increase but it should actually prevent a much larger rate increase in the future. Even with the increase, Lakehaven still maintains some of the lowest sewer and water rates in western Washington.