If you are buying a home that was built in the last 15 years you may have an additional cost to be aware of. The ‘Sewage Treatment Capacity Charge’ is applied to new construction homes in many counties. Homes in Seattle & King County are included.
How will you know it exists?
Your first clue is the age of the home. The fee is applied to new construction. If the full amount is not paid upfront then it is amortized over 15 years. Next, the Seller should disclose it on the Seller Disclosure (Form 17), although some Sellers may forget it exists and there are times that a Seller may be exempt from providing a Form 17.
Note: It will not show up on the title report. It is a fee/charge applied to the home but does not show as a recorded lien against the property, therefore the Title Company does not pick it up.
The following questions and answers are from the King County Website.
What is the capacity charge?
The sewage treatment capacity charge is a charge in addition to sewer service billed to those customers who connected to the sanitary sewage system on or after Feb. 1, 1990.
Why do we have a capacity charge?
To protect public health and the environment, King County’s wastewater treatment system must keep pace with growth in our region. That means building more pipes, pump stations, and treatment plants.
The capacity charge distributes the costs for this expanding infrastructure to customers with the newest sewer connections. In other words, the capacity charge helps make sure that “growth pays for growth.”
Who must pay?
All homeowners and building owners in King County’s service area whose home or building was newly connected to the King County sewer system on or after Feb. 1, 1990 pay the capacity charge. King County provides sewage treatment services to most cities and sewer agencies in King County, areas of south Snohomish County, and a small part of Pierce County.
How much is it?
Effective Jan. 1, 2012, the county’s monthly capacity charge for new connections increased to $51.95; for a single family home. Multi-unit properties are charged different rates.
Will the rate go up?
The King County Council reviews and establishes the amount of the capacity charge annually. Increases apply to new connections only—they are not retroactively applied to existing accounts.
How is it billed?
King County sends capacity charge bills to property owners about three months after connection to the sewer system. King County will then send a bill every three months for 15 years, or until the balance of the property’s account is paid.
What are my payment options?
At any time during the 15-year duration of the charge, you may pay the remaining balance in one lump sum at a discount. If you include the payoff amount in your mortgage, it might provide a tax advantage. However if you are likely to sell your property within a few years of buying it, you may not want to prepay future charges because the remaining payments could be passed along to the next owner.
Why didn’t the developer pay this charge?
By law the capacity charge is a monthly charge triggered by connection to the sewer system, not an upfront cost of development. The capacity charge is the responsibility of the current property owner.
Who can I contact about my bill? For questions about your capacity charge bill:
King County Capacity Charge Program
201 S. Jackson, M.S. KSC-NR-0502 Seattle, WA 98104
Phone: 206-296-1450 Fax: 206-263-6073