Tacoma utility rate hikes begin

The average Tacoma residential customer will pay a combined total of $2.82 more each month for solid waste, wastewater and surface water services in 2011. The rate increases were approved by Tacoma City Council and went into effect on Mon., Feb. 14. A typical customer has a 30-gallon garbage container, lives on a 7,000-square-foot lot and uses 7 ccf (700 cubic feet) of fresh water each month in the winter.


Residential curbside — Tacoma Solid Waste Management rates are increasing an average of 2.8 percent, although the increase varies by the size of garbage container a customer uses. Monthly rates for residential garbage collection:


— 20-gallon can $25.25 $25.25

— 30-gallon can $35.35 $35.95

— 60-gallon can $57.00 $62.75

— 90-gallon can $79.35 $90.00

The 2011 rates continue phasing in a volume-based rate structure, where eventually a 60-gallon can will cost twice as much as a 30-gallon can. The goal is to encourage people to reduce waste and recycle more by offering lower rates for those who throw away less garbage.

Recycling, yard waste, Call-2-Haul and household hazardous waste disposal services are included in the cost of residential garbage collection.

Solid waste rates and fees help pay for:

— Collection of garbage, recycling and yard waste;

— Operation of the transfer facility at the landfill;

— Transportation and disposal of waste material at a landfill;

— Other infrastructure, operational and overhead costs for the landfill and environmental stewardship;

— Programs such as Call-2-Haul, discounts for low-income disabled and low-income senior customers, the nuisance cleanup program, and household hazardous waste disposal.


Surface Water Management residential customers will see an average rate increase of 5.4 percent in 2011, but actual bills depend on lot size and level of development. The rate for a typical single-family lot (7,000 square feet) increases by 73 cents, from $16.27 in 2010 to $17 per month in 2011.

Surface Water rates help pay for:

— Operation and maintenance of 500 miles of stormwater pipes, 22,000-plus storm drains/catch basins, four pump stations and numerous detention ponds which manage the flow of rainwater runoff;

— Inspections, spill response, monitoring, investigating pollution sources, education, street sweeping and other efforts to prevent pollution from reaching Puget Sound;

— Controlling urban flooding;

— Cleanup and restoration of sites affected by industry and urbanization, such as the Thea Foss Waterway.


Wastewater Management residential customers will see an average increase of 4.8 percent in 2011, although actual bills depend on water use. Wastewater charges are based on the amount of fresh water a household uses during the four most recent winter months, typically December through March, when water usage should be at its lowest. The monthly wastewater bill for a typical single-family home (using 700 cubic feet of water a month during the winter) will increase by $1.49, from $39.56 in 2010 to $41.05 in 2011.

Wastewater rates help pay for:

— Operation and maintenance of the 700-mile network of underground pipes, 48 pumping stations and two major wastewater treatment facilities;

— Treatment of wastewater to a level acceptable for discharge into Commencement Bay;

— Production of TAGRO products.

Tacoma City Council also increased the discount for utility customers who qualify based on income. A 30 percent discount is available to low-income adults receiving disability income and low-income customers age 62 or older. This discount previously was 25 percent. Utility payment assistance is also available to other low-income customers. Requirements have been changed so customers don’t have to be in disconnect status to apply for assistance. For an application, customers may call (253) 502-8369 or visit http://www.mytpu.org and select Customer Service and then Payment Assistance.