SPOKANE, Wash. — The city of Spokane could increase utility rates by $3.47 a month.

In 2014, the city adopted rates for 2015, 2016 and 2017. While the new proposal says a typical customer would see their utility bill increase by $3.47 a month, they will also get some credit for using less water in the winter months.

"If they're amongst the 20 percent of our lowest water users, they can qualify for a $5 a month credit,” Marlene Feist from Spokane Public Works said.

The proposal includes a new $10 monthly credit for low-income seniors and disabled people who qualify for State of Washington property tax exemptions granted through Spokane County.

So, why increase utility rates now?

Feist said since 2014 the council has committed to setting utility rates a couple years in advance in order to provide cost predictability.

"We want to know what should be in our budget in the coming years and be able to plan for the future,” Feist said. “And we found that for citizens, that ability to plan was also a good thing."

The estimated $3.47 increase for a typical utility customer would only be applied annually. If the proposal is approved, the new rates for 2018 through 2020 would go into effect on the first of January each year.

Utility customers are invited to attend and testify the meeting scheduled for July 31 at 6 p.m. at City Hall.