City response to Ronald Wastewater District’s suit

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

From The City of Shoreline

On August 13, 2013, the City filed its response and counterclaims to Ronald Wastewater District’s (District) lawsuit against the City disputing the terms of the 2002 Interlocal Operating Agreement (Agreement) jointly approved by the District’s Board and the City Council. The Agreement provides for the unification of District operations with the City in October 2017 through an assumption process. The District is now disputing the terms of the Agreement and filed suit against the City on June 27, 2013.

“It’s unfortunate that the District Board of Commissioners has decided to take this path,” stated City Manager Julie Underwood. “I think the Commissioners have forgotten that their ratepayers are also City taxpayers. Shoreline residents have consistently expressed their desire to have more efficient and effective delivery of government services. The unification of services between the City and District will do that.”

The Agreement specifically states that the intent is to:

“… provide the citizens of the entire City and the ratepayers served by the District with an efficient, high quality and well maintained sanitary sewerage wastewater system at a reasonable cost and to provide and orderly and predictable transition of the wastewater utility from District to City ownership.”

Under the terms of the agreement, the District agreed to cooperate with the City in the assumption process and not take any action to protest or challenge the assumption. On several occasions over the past few years, the City has had to explicitly request that the District act in accordance with the Agreement. The District is now asking the Court to set aside the District’s promises to cooperate with and to plan for the transition of the assumption.

“The City and the District both signed the agreement in 2002, so it seems reasonable to expect the District to live up to their end of the agreement,” stated Mayor Keith McGlashan, “Although the City could have legally proceeded with assumption in 2002, the City agreed to delay this until 2017 based on the agreement of the District to facilitate and plan for a smooth transition for Shoreline taxpayers.”

The City firmly believes that the Shoreline community supports the common sense consolidation of separate governmental entities into a single service provider. The City’s Comprehensive Plan, which was developed through the extensive public participation process required under the Growth Management Act, anticipates unification of utilities under the City. And in November 2012, over 70% of Shoreline voters approved the acquisition of the SPU water system in Shoreline.

Unification of the wastewater and water utilities with the City will enable streamlined services such as one-stop shopping for billing, starting or stopping service, permitting and long-range community and economic development planning. Instead of having to work with three separate entities, contractors and homeowners will only need to work with one. Consolidating utilities under the City will also reduce administrative and operational costs by using shared staff, equipment, and facilities. Another key benefit will be transparency and accountability of utility operations by improving community participation in establishing financial policies, rates, and capital and operating budgets.

A copy of the District’s complaint and the City’s response, along with other documents, can be found on the City webpage.


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