City of Shoreline and Ronald Wastewater District disagree on possible City takeover of sewer district

Monday, January 2, 2012

By Evan Smith
Contributing Writer

The City of Shoreline and the Ronald Wastewater District have different views about whether the City has the right to take over the functions of the Wastewater District.

The disagreement is over interpretation of the District’s franchise to operate sewers in the City.

The 15-year franchise agreement expires in 2017.

The City says that expiration of the franchise will give it the right to take over sewer functions.

The District says that the expiration of the agreement simply means that the City won’t take over sewer functions before 2017.

Assistant City Manager Debbie Terry said in November that the agreement calls for the City and District to develop a final transition plan in 2015.

Wastewater District Manager Michael Derrick said in December that a city has a right to assume sewer functions but that a city that hasn’t already operated a sewer system can do so only with a public vote. Derrick said that this has been part of State law since 1890.


Anonymous,  January 3, 2012 at 11:30 PM  

The city recognized that an election was required when they asked for an amendment to exempt from RCW 54.16.180, which states:

(1) A district may sell and convey, lease, or otherwise dispose of all or any part of its works, plants, systems, utilities and properties, after proceedings and approval by the voters of the district, as provided for the lease or disposition of like properties and facilities owned by cities and towns. The affirmative vote of three-fifths of the voters voting at an election on the question of approval of a proposed sale shall be necessary to authorize such a sale.

If the city wants to rely upon a franchise agreement that was written that violates the state law, then they have problems. The city clearly recognized the validity of the law when they asked in the 2011 State Legislative Session in HB 1407/SB 5258 for an amendment to the above state law, so they are now probably just going to waste more taxpayer money trying to get their way rather than put it up to a vote.

When Lake Forest Park took over part of Ronald Wastewater operations, they immediately raised rates about 20-25%, which is what you can expect the City of Shoreline to do if they get control of SPU and Ronald Wastewater.

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