Water and Sewer District Q&A

Water and Sewer District Q&A
Posted on 03/25/2021
Water Pumping Stations

City of Renton SealMarch 25, 2021

City of Renton Contacts
Utility Billing Customer Service, 425-430-6852
Preeti Shridhar, Deputy Public Affairs Administrator, 425-430-6569

Utility Tax Q&A

Beginning January 1, 2021 water and sewer districts may begin collecting a utility tax on water and sewer services that they provide to city residents. This was in response to a June 2020 ruling from the Washington State Supreme Court that allowed cities across the state to collect this money from water and sewer districts.

This charge on water and sewer districts operating within city limits is one that all City of Renton utility providers pay. The proceeds go into the city's general fund and support a wide variety of city services, including parks and recreation, public works projects, police, and courts, to name just a few.

Customers affected by this tax may have been contacted by your water and sewer districts and have questions. We will address the most common here and invite you to contact our Utility Billing Department at 425-430-6852 or ub@rentonwa.gov if you need assistance. They are open Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

I’m a Soos Creek customer, are we the only district being taxed?

The supreme court’s ruling affects all water and sewer districts across the state, not just Soos Creek. It is important to note the City of Renton is taxing the water and sewer districts. These districts may decide to pass this fee onto their customers or pay it from their revenues. By collecting this tax from water and sewer districts operating in Renton, all our residents are now paying the same tax rate.

Is this a new tax?

This is not a new tax. Years ago, the city authorized a tax on the gross income derived from sales of utility services. The residents who currently receive the same services from different water districts or cities have been paying this tax for several years. The tax rate for electric, phone, gas, and sewer utilities was set at 6% of collected revenues. The tax for water, storm, and garbage was set at 6.8%. There has been some debate in recent years if water districts were subject to this tax, as the law was not clear. A recent Washington Supreme Court case ruled water districts were subject to the utility tax.

Why a tax and not a franchise fee?

The City of Renton decided to use a utility tax. That way all our water and sewer utility customers will pay the same tax rate. A franchise fee would cause some customers to pay a higher tax.

How will the collected tax money be used?

The collected taxes go into the City of Renton’s general fund, which funds vital city services and infrastructure projects. Included are community & economic development projects, public works projects, including street maintenance, snow removal, and sidewalks, maintenance of parks, recreation programs, police and courts, to name a few. All residents served by City of Renton utilities have paid these taxes for years.

I'm on a limited income. Do you have a reduced rate program?

Yes. For residents who receive their water and sewer service through the City of Renton, the city offers reduced rates for water, wastewater, surface water, and garbage for low-income senior citizens (61 and over) and low-income disabled citizens. The current yearly income limit is $58,423 per year for one resident and an additional $5,000 per year for each additional resident. Qualified residents can complete and return the Reduced Rate Application. Those residents who do not pay for water services to the city but who receive water service from a district can also complete this form to be eligible for the utility tax rebate program. For more information or rate questions, contact the Utility Billing Customer Service at 425-430-6852 or ub@rentonwa.gov.

About the City of Renton

The City of Renton, Washington, with a population of 105,500 (2020), is located on the southeast shore of Lake Washington, just south of Seattle. Renton's strong economic base, diverse marketplace and favorable business climate have attracted the attention of nationally recognized companies that are providing employees and their families an outstanding quality of life. Renton is the home of Boeing, PACCAR, IKEA, the Seattle Seahawks, and the eternal resting place of Jimi Hendrix. More information can be found on our website, news releases, or Facebook, Twitter, and Nextdoor pages.  

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