Proposed Right of Way Tax

Thursday, June 07, 2018

King County Right-of-Way Tax May Increase Your Utility Rates

 As reported by the Seattle Times on March 1, 2018, the King County Council quickly and quietly adopted an ordinance in November, 2016, authorizing a tax in the form of "rent" on utilities with water mains, sewer pipes, gas lines, and electrical wires in County roadways.

 In January, 2018, King County staff adopted a "rule" to implement and calculate the tax applicable to these utilities.  This first-of-its-kind tax will have a significant financial impact on every utility in King County with facilities in County right-of- way, with the inevitable financial trickle-down to every ratepayer.

 Although Highline Water District does not have much service area in unincorporated King County, the District must pass the tax through to its utility customers in its unincorporated utility service area as a cost of service.

 However, given that Washington law already authorizes water and sewer districts like Highline to use public highways, roads and streets, Highline and twenty other water-sewer districts in King County notified the County of their objections to this new tax.  King County responded by filing a lawsuit in King County Superior Court in January 2018 against the districts to obtain a judicial declaration that the right-of-way tax is lawful.  The districts oppose the lawsuit and seek to invalidate the tax.

 As stewards of your utility service, we work hard to keep your water and sewer rates as low as possible, and we feel you should be aware of this additional cost.  A hearing on the issue has been scheduled for July 2018, and we hope for a favorable court ruling that the County cannot tax or charge Highline rent to use County right-of-way.  The District will keep you further advised of the status of the lawsuit, and of the District's efforts to oppose the tax.

Contact Us

Highline Water District
23828 30th Ave. S.
Kent, WA 98032
Phone: 206-824-0375
Emergency: 206-824-0375
FAX: 206-824-0806
Hours: M-F 7:00 4:00

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