City of Spokane faces $30 million suit over water rates charged to county residents

The City of Spokane will face a 30 million dollar lawsuit class action lawsuit from a group of plaintiffs who say they were overcharged for city water.

Attorneys filed a claim for damages Thursday in Spokane County Superior Court on behalf of three specific people and on behalf of others who faced a similar situation.

According to the claim, county residents who use city water were charged higher rates than users within the city limits. The claim alleges that 6,000 individuals and businesses may be affected by the overcharging.

The claim says that "from at least the early 1980's, the defendant City actively encouraged various private landowners to develop residential communities in then-unincorporated areas of Spokane county located outside the then-existing City limits boundaries and within the City's Water Service Area."

The attorneys, Bob Dunn and Bil Childress, claim the City also forced those private landowners to "pay for and construct water infrastructure required to develop various areas outside the Defendant's then-existing City limits boundaries and within the City's Water Service Area."

The claim alleges that "thousands of homes and apartments, as well as numerous businesses" were built in these areas and that the City "arbitrarily and capriciously imposed a water services surcharge, requiring all Spokane County Water Customers to pay in excess of 100 percent of the regular water services rates paid by Spokane City Water customers."

Attorneys for the plaintiffs claim county residents have complained about the surcharge since 2006.

The plaintiffs allege the complaints reached Spokane City Council President Ben Stuckart who, according to the claim, ignored the concerns" because the residents were not residents of the city and weren't represented by council.

The claim asks for a permanent injunction, directing the City of Spokane to establish "just, fair and reasonable" rates for those living in the county. It also demands the city provide water rate compensation to the plaintiffs and all others affected.

The claim for damages lists the total claim at "not less than $30,000,000.

The City of Spokane declined to comment on the claim Thursday.