As 2013 begins, so do some new laws, regulations and fee increases. Here’s a sampling of what to watch for.
If you’re a renter, homeowner or landlord: Carbon monoxide alarms are now required in existing apartments, condominiums, hotels, motels and single-family homes, with some exceptions. Owner-occupied single-family homes, legally occupied before July 26, 2009, are not required to have the alarms until they are sold. (The law was passed in 2009, and portions of it have phased in over time.)
If you’re a worker: The state minimum wage increases to $9.19 an hour, up from $9.04 an hour. (State law doesn’t let employers take a tip credit against the minimum wage.)
If you’re a garbage customer in King County: The basic fee for bringing solid waste to a transfer station or drop box will increase to $129.40 per ton, up from $117.42, including tax and a moderate risk waste fee. The minimum fee will increase from $20 to $22, including tax and the moderate risk waste fee. An average residential customer who puts out one can of garbage per week for curbside collection is likely to see an increase of about 57 cents per month in the garbage bill.
If you’re a Pierce County Ferry System rider: A variety of service changes start Jan. 1. The system provides service between the town of Steilacoom, Anderson Island and Ketron Island.
If you’re unemployed: The federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation program ends Dec. 29. EUC is a federal extension that provides additional weeks of unemployment benefits after you have run out of “regular unemployment benefits.”
If you’re a fish (or care about them, or drive a vehicle): In 2010 Washington state passed a law reducing the use of toxic material in automotive brake pads and shoes. This law restricts the use of several heavy metals and asbestos, and provides for a phase-out of copper over the next 15-20 years. Starting Jan. 1, manufacturers have to report the concentrations of copper, nickel, zinc and antimony in brake friction materials.
If you’re a fish, part 2 (or an angler): Barbless hooks will be required to fish for salmon, steelhead and cutthroat trout in the mainstem Columbia River, including the north jetty, from Buoy 10 upstream to the Washington/Oregon border above McNary Dam.
If you're a Mercer Island resident: There's about $135 in fee increases and new taxes for the typical homeowner in 2013 — approved as part of the 2013-2014 annual budget — and go into effect Jan. 1 (voters also approved a levy lid lift to pay for the new fire station).
Here's two handy charts created by City Finance Director Chip Corder describing the impact the new taxes and fees for the typical Mercer Island home (a "typical" homeowner is defined as a family of four which owns a home with an assessed value of $700,000).
Proposed Tax Increase
Levy lid lift ballot measure for fire station & fire rescue truck (if it passes)
1% property tax increase
Utility tax on water, sewer & storm water utilities (3.4% in 2013 and 5.0% in 2014)
Total annual tax impact
$144.61Proposed Utility Rate Increases Description 2012 2013 2014 Mercer Island bi-monthly bill $241.19 $255.41 $262.51 Rate increase over prior year 5.9% 5.9% 2.8% Dollar increase over prior year $13.39 $14.22 $7.10
Mercer Island City Manager Rich Conrad also said modest fee increases for the Mercer Island Community & Event Center's rental rates, and a new technology surcharge on building permits will go into effect in the new year (the city stopped requiring physical blueprints for a permit after implementing an online application system 3 years ago).
"Our online system allows people to save on printing cost," said Conrad. "(The surcharge) more than pays for itself. When you require blueprints, that's way more expensive."
Sources: Local, state and federal agency websites.