If you own a home or building in King County that was built after 1990, or are looking to purchase one, you should be aware that there is likely a sewer capacity charge attached to the property. The “Sewage Treatment Capacity Charge” is a quarterly invoice that applies to every owner with a property built in 1990 or later in areas serviced by King County. This fee is applied over the course of a 15 year period following the date of connection to the sewage system (King County services areas of south Snohomish County and a small part of Pierce County). The purpose of the sewer capacity fee is to ensure that the county’s wastewater treatment facilities keep pace with the growth of the region and allows for the building of more pipes, pump stations and treatment plants. It is important to note that this charge is in addition to the homeowner’s monthly sewer bill.
How much is the charge?
The sewer capacity charge varies from year to year, so your charge will reflect the rates in effect the year of connection and remain the same over the course of the 15 year repayment period. In 2014 the rate for a single family residential customer is $55.35 per month. If you own a multi-family unit or a non-residential property, your rate will be different.
I am buying a home. Do I have to pay the sewage capacity charge?
The sewer capacity charge is the responsibility of the current property owner, so if title changes at any point during that 15 year period, responsibility is transferred to the new owner unless otherwise agreed to during a transaction. A recent change to the NWMLS Purchase and Sale Agreements brings this issue to light more transparently by allowing buyer and seller to negotiate the payoff or assumption of “Charges and Assessments Due After Closing” right on the front page. If “prepaid in full by Seller at Closing” is checked, this will trigger the escrow company to look for the presence of an outstanding sewer capacity charge and pay that balance IN FULL out of the seller’s proceeds at closing. Both Buyer and Seller should be aware of this to avoid any last minute surprises and certainly consult with your Real Estate Broker on the subject if you’re planning to buy or sell in King County or its outlying service areas.
Can I pay off my sewer capacity fee early?
King County offers a discount if a property owner is willing to pay off the remaining balance with a lump sum payment. However it is important to consider how long you anticipate owning the property before doing so. As described above, you may have the opportunity to include this in your negotiations at the time of sale.