Pierce County Sewer Utility customers in Lakewood will see an increase in their bills next year at the request of the Lakewood City Council. Residential customers will pay about $12 a year extra for 20 years, a total of about $252. The money generated by the surcharge will be used pay off loans that the city took out to extend sewer service to two of the city’s lowest-income neighborhoods, Tillicum and American Lake Gardens.
To help lessen the sting, the City Council reduced storm water fees by 10 percent, or about 72 cents a month. Over the 20-year period, that amounts to $172.80 in savings, meaning the total impact to a residential customer will be $79.20.
The sewer surcharge and the storm water fee reduction both take effect in January 2006.
The total cost of extending the main sewer line to the two neighborhoods is about $9.1 million. To pay the bill, the city has obtained $2.2 million in federal grants in addition to the $6 million loan and it plans on doing almost $1 million worth of work in house.
Lakewood City Manager Andrew Neiditz said sewer service is expected to generate economic development in the area. American Lake Gardens alone has 120 acres of industrial property that will be ready for development when the sewer lines are installed.
The American Lake Gardens and Tillicum neighborhoods are home to about 5,000 residents and a variety of businesses, all of which rely on septic systems. The two schools and a number of apartment complexes in the area also depend entirely on septic systems. Aging septic systems are expensive to replace and can fail if not properly maintained, creating the potential for a serious public health problem.