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Published on Friday, February 22, 2013

SEPA and utility latecomer fees

HB 1717 is expected to come out of committee on February 22, ahead of the cutoff. This proposal has had many iterations in recent days, as more people examine the provisions in section 2 that mandate that cities provide for utility latecomer agreements for the development community.

AWC would like to find a path forward on this proposal, as we appreciate the fundamental fairness questions being raised by those who pay to install infrastructure that also benefits future developments. The intent is to find a way to ensure more certainty around reimbursement for those initial investors, in a way that is workable for cities. We have heard from some cities who would prefer that this remain an option – we ask those who feel that way to get in touch with Carl Schroeder and provide ideas on what could be done instead.

The latest proposal retains a mandatory duty for cities to offer utility latecomer fees for at least 20 years, along with authority to recover full costs of administering and setting up these agreements.

It also includes the following new provisions intended to provide additional protections to cities. Connection of the extension to the municipal system must be conditioned upon:

  • Construction of the extension according to plans and specifications approved by the municipality.
  • Inspection and approval of the extension by the municipality.
  • Transfer to the municipality of the extension, without cost to the municipality, upon acceptance by the municipality of the extension.
  • Payment of all required connection charges to the municipality.
  • Full compliance with the owner's obligations under the contract and with the municipality's rules and regulations.
  • Provision of sufficient security to the municipality to ensure completion of the extension and other performance under the contract.
  • Payment by the owner to the municipality of all of the municipality's costs associated with the extension including, but not limited to, engineering, legal, and administrative costs.
  • Verification and approval of all contracts and costs related to the extension.

And also the following new provision:

“The requirement for a municipality to contract with an owner of real estate for the construction or improvement of water or sewer facilities under this section is only applicable if the facilities are consistent with all applicable comprehensive plans and development regulations of the municipalities through which the facilities will be constructed or will serve.”

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