NOVEMBER 2018 UPDATE to King County Franchise Ordinance 18403
Superior Court Rules Against the Ordinance:
Multiple King County water and sewer districts, including Cedar River Water & Sewer District, successfully defended a lawsuit filed by King County in which the County sought confirmation that it had the right to charge rent for the use of public highways, roads and streets. Specifically, Superior Court Judge Samuel Chung’s ruling declared as invalid King County Ordinance 18403 that would have charged rent to utility providers that install and operate electric, water, sewer, and gas in public rights of way in unincorporated parts of the county.
King County Appeals the Ruling:
King County has filed a Notice of Appeal challenging Judge Chung’s Superior Court ruling and has petitioned the Washington State Supreme Court for direct review. It is anticipated the appeal process will extend well into next year. The District will continue monitoring the situation and keep our customers apprised with periodic website updates.
MARCH 26, 2018 UPDATE to King County Unlawful Tax
King County has proceeded to implement its franchise rental value fee through the adoption of a rule (RPM 9-2) by the Facilities Management Division that provides for charging rent to water, sewer, gas and electrical utilities for the use of public right of way. Information regarding the new rule can be found on the internet at this web link: https://www.kingcounty.gov/about/policies/aep/propertyaep/rpm92dp.aspx.
In January of this year, just prior to the rule taking effect, the County filed suit against water and sewer districts in King County Superior Court seeking an order confirming its power to charge utilities with rent for the use of public right of way. The districts have joined together to defend the suit and have counterclaimed by seeking an order declaring that the County’s rule and underlying ordinance are invalid. The assigned trial date is January 22, 2019. Our attorneys anticipate that this case will be decided by motions which will be filed in the next several months. After the trial court rules, appeals will likely follow and it may be several years before we have a final legal ruling as to whether the County has the legal authority to impose the rental charge.
The District has received a Compensation Notice from King County outlining the 2018 monthly rental charge for water ($15,456.62) and sewer ($20,789.58) which are subject to periodic increases at the discretion of the County. The result is an estimated charge to CRWSD customers in the range of $4-$5 per month for sewer and $1.50-$2.50 for water. The notice provides that rent is to begin accruing in mid-September of 2018 but our present intention is to not pay it unless and until a final court ruling is issued requiring the District to do so. If the County prevails in the litigation, the District may be forced to pay back rent along with amounts going forward. The District’s Board of Commissioners will monitor the situation and determine whether surcharges will be necessary if the County prevails in court.
November 30, 2017 State law gives utilities use of rights-of-way, however King County wants to tax you for it!
Contact your King County Council! On November 7, 2016, the King County Council quietly adopted an ordinance imposing an unlawful tax. Nearly a year later, on October 23, 2017, King County Facilities Management Division finally issued the draft rule to implement Ordinance 18403, providing some context as to how the County intends to impose the unlawful tax, but also exposing other troubling issues.
Download the details: What’s Wrong, Who Gets Hurt & What’s Next
What the Public Can Do Now:
Contact King County! Email comments to King County by 5 pm PST, Thursday December 7th, 2017.
For more information and the online comment form go to http://www.kingcounty.gov/franchise
Talk to Talk Radio! The Washington Association of Sewer & Water Districts is presenting the story to talk radio hosts Dori Monson and John Curley of KIRO Radio. Dori Monson especially rails against King County and Seattle for unfair taxes. We want the radio hosts to know their listeners care about this. You are encouraged to tweet the hosts below and convince them they need to talk about the unlawful County tax on utilities.