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North Seattle residents paying more for streetlights? Jesse investigates

Tax dollars pay for things many of us don’t even think about, such as street lights. So imagine being told you’ll have to pay extra to keep your street illuminated. It happened to a north Seattle neighborhood and homeowners asked me to find out why.

For more than 40 years, Greg Hanseroth has lived on a well-lit street in north Seattle.  But now he’s feeling in the dark after Seattle City Light left a surprising note on his door.

“It says from now on, someone is going to have to pay for that street light right there,” said Hanseroth.

Hanseroth and several other neighbors got the notice, which states a previous customer was no longer going to pay for the street light. If someone didn’t cough up the cash, the city was going to pull the plug.

“Why would I pay $11.59 a month to have a street light when everyone else gets them for free?” asked Hanseroth.

Hanseroth called City Light for answers but no one ever got back to him. Worried his street would soon go dark, he asked me to figure out the deal.

“I thought all the lights were free, part of the taxpayer thing, but I guess not. So I need somebody to get in there and find out what’s going on because I couldn’t,” exclaimed Hanseroth.

I contacted Seattle City Light and after a review of its records the utility confirms the street light in question is paid for with tax dollars. This situation was all a paperwork mix-up.

“We thought a customer was canceling a street light rental and wanted to give the neighbors a chance to take over the payments before we removed the light,” said Sephir Hamilton of Seattle City Light.

Hamilton said the customer was canceling enrollment in a renewable energy program but it was entered incorrectly in the system.

“On behalf of City Light, I want to personally apologize to all the neighbors that were affected, and the confusion and frustration that we created,” said Hamilton.

Hanseroth was excited about the enlightening news.

“Oh great! I’m going to talk to my other neighbor who had agreed to pay for it and he feels good about it, too,” said Hanseroth.

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