Scott Tanner is among the people in Bonney Lake complaining about suddenly owing the city hundreds — or even $1,000 more than their previous water bills.
“The shock and awe with the sewer and the water bills here, you think you’re paying a new car payment,” said Tanner, looking at a bill indicating he used more than double the amount of water he ever had before.
The City of Bonney Lake sent out letters to some customers suggesting they might have leaks. The letter also asked, “Have you recently filled a hot tub or swimming pool?”
Cindy Gilsing showed her bill, which indicated she used 1,800 cubic feet of water last year, but this billing cycle, she used 6,100. One neighbor responded to Gelsing’s NextDoor post, saying his bill, which was as high as $140, now has exploded to $1,200.
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The city does its water billing every two months, City Administrator Don Morrison said Tuesday afternoon. That can lead to surprisingly high water bills for people who water their lawns regularly while dry weather lingers.
“We had an incredibly warm August and September,” he said. “People didn’t stop watering, so they’re just now starting to get those bills.”
The city sent high-consumption notices to people whose use was abnormally high compared with last year, Morrison said.
Bonney Lake has a three-tier billing system where rates go up as use increases. Morrison said the city recently underwent a water system audit that found that rates should be increased by twice as much as the increase in front of the City Council.
Residents say they’ve gone to city hall and they were told the city has to pay for new water and sewer upgrades and maintenance. Customers told KIRO they did not hear a reasonable explanation as to why so many bills calculated skyrocketing water use— which, in some cases, approached a 1,000 percent increase.
“A lot of people can’t afford this bump, and it takes away from putting food on your table,” Tanner said, adding that he will attend Tuesday’s city council meeting at Bonney Lake City Hall, where the council might vote on another water rate increase of 4 percent.
“We haven’t consumed that much water, I can tell you that,” Tanner said. “But they have the right to say that we did. Who do we fight? Where do we go?”
Morrison says Bonney Lake’s water rates are similar to those of its neighboring cities.
“There’s people who say, ‘I couldn’t have possibly used that much water,’ but when you look at it, and there’s no leaks, that’s what it is,” Morrison said. “The rains didn’t come back in September. It’s not the rate structure.”
News Tribune staff writer Kenny Ocker contributed to this report.
CITY COUNCIL MEETING
Bonney Lake City Council meets at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 10, at Bonney Lake Justice and Municipal Center, 9002 Main St. E., Bonney Lake.