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Utility bills may increase until King County, water district sort out public rights of way

Many King County home and business owners could soon see an extra charge on their utility bills, thanks to a new effort to shore up the county’s budget.

King County recently passed a measure that would charge utilities a rental fee for using public rights of way.

“They have come up with this scheme to charge rent of the utility companies to be in the right-of-way within unincorporated King County.  The problem with this, according to Washington state law and it’s very clear, that the county does not own title to the right-of-way to which they want to charge us rent,” Jim Kuntz, Executive Director of the WA Association of Sewer and Water Districts, explained to KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson Show.

Kuntz says neighboring property owners have title to the right-of-way. The Washington Association of Sewer and Water District is suing the county to try and stop the tax.  Kuntz says in the end, the extra fees would be passed along to the home and property owners who actually do own the land.

It’s estimated about $5 would be added on to the average utility bill per month.  For an address that has water, sewer, gas and electricity, that would total more than $200 per year.

“They have absolutely no right whatsoever to charge utilities a rent on land that they don’t own,” Kuntz said.

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