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Public input sought for Seattle Public Utilities business plan

Process will guide utility service goals, investments, rates for next 6 years

Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) and the Seattle City Council are asking for more public input into an updated business plan to guide the utility’s service goals, investments, and recommended rates for the next six years.

Some 325,000 postcards inviting public comment on the plan are going in the mail this week, to all SPU customers. City Council’s Civil Rights, Utilities, Economic Development & Arts Committee (CRUEDA) will begin the work of finalizing the plan, next month.

First approved by the Council in 2014, the business plan is SPU’s blueprint for providing critical services to the city — including highest quality drinking water, internationally recognized recycling and composting programs, and sewer and drainage systems that protect local waterbodies.

“The updated plan will guide important investments to protect public health, meet costly regulatory requirements and provide excellent utility services — while at the same time doing everything possible to keep rates affordable,” SPU General Manager and Chief Executive Officer Mami Hara said.

“In developing its draft plan, SPU has received input from hundreds of utility customers and employees who attended public meetings held around the city this spring, or responded to an online questionnaire,” Hara said.

Hara noted that qualified low- or fixed-income SPU customers can receive 50 percent off their water, sewer, and garbage bills by enrolling in the City’s Utility Discount Program.

“Updating the Strategic Business Plan every three years provides essential guidance to SPU to continue to fulfill its Promise to all of its customers,” said Noel Miller, chair of the customer review panel chair which helped develop the draft plan.

The City Council has set three dates for hearings on the draft SPU draft business plan. All three hearings will be held at Seattle City Hall, 5th Avenue and James Street, at the following times:

  • Tuesday, July 11, 9:30 a.m.
  • Tuesday, July 25, 9:30 a.m.
  • Tuesday, August 8, 9:30 a.m.

The committee hearings can be watched online. City Councilmember Lisa Herbold, who chairs the CRUEDA committee, has also invited Seattleites to contact her directly, at: (206) 684-8803, or by email, at:

SPU and an independent customer review panel have worked for the past 10 months to develop the draft business plan, which can be found online, here. The draft plan recommends average annual utility rate increases of 5.5 percent starting in 2018, through the year 2023. That’s below the average annual 6.8 percent increase in the decade preceding the original plan.

2018-2023 Combined Utility Rates Under SPU’s Draft Strategic Business Plan

Projected 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022 2023
Average annual rate increase 3.20% 8.20% 9.50% 4.10% 3.70% 4.20%
Typical monthly residential bill $187 $202 $222 $232 $240 $251

Related to the plan, new proposed drinking water rates, for 2018 through 2020, are scheduled for consideration by the City Council, later this summer.

In preparing the draft business plan, SPU was guided by input from hundreds of customers, including outreach to traditionally hard-to-reach communities. Altogether, the utility held seven neighborhood sessions attended by dozens of participants, with outreach in languages such as Spanish, Tagalog, Somali, Amharic, Mandarin, Cantonese, Vietnamese and Cambodian. Additional comments were received online from customers.