Oahu sewer bills
4 percent a year
The 19-year proposal raises fundsBy Gordon Y.K. Pang
for wastewater projects
Sewer bills for the average Oahu family are expected to rise 4 percent annually during the next two decades under a package of legislation approved by the City Council.
The reason: City officials project $1.7 billion in upgrades and additions will be necessary for Oahu's aging sewer system by 2017.
They also believe the policies adopted yesterday, with predictable rate increases, will make it easier for Oahu homeowners to plan ahead.
A consultant has recommended that the monthly charge go from $33.65 this year to $34.69 next year, and up to $83.94 by 2017. The Council won't formally take up the issue of sewer rates until it considers the budget next spring.
The key reason for the long-term rate schedule is that financing for sewage projects will now come from revenue bonds rather than general obligation bonds. That means amounts borrowed for wastewater work are tied to sewer fees collected, rather than the city's general funds.
For example, the Council yesterday approved authorization to sell two sets of revenue bonds totaling $350 million. Of that, $275 million is to refinance existing general obligation bonds tied to sewer projects already on the books.
The policies adopted yesterday amortize the debt further, stretching it to slow the increase for homeowners.
"We now have a specific source of revenue, and that specific source is wastewater revenues, which will enhance our ability to improve our bond rating," said Council Finance Chairman John Henry Felix.