Stormwater fee increase mulled in PA - Amount may double by 2008 tax time
Thursday, August 9, 2007
PORT ANGELES, WA ---The city’s monthly stormwater utility fee could double next year under a proposal being considered by the City Council.
Tuesday’s public hearing on the proposal will be continued at the Aug. 21 council meeting.
The proposal is to increase the city’s monthly stormwater fee from $3 per month per 4,000-square-foot unit to $6 per month per unit beginning next year.
The cap of 10 units per property, or $60 per month would remain.
The measure would raise an estimated $656,000 a year.
The fee is collected by Clallam County, along with property taxes.
The city must notify Clallam County of any action by November to get the increase on the 2008 property tax statements.
City Engineer Steve Sperr said the stormwater utility’s current funding of about $360,000 from monthly fee is inadequate.But state loans and grants also will be needed to supplement the money from increased rates, he said.
City Councilwoman Betsy Wharton said the 10-unit cap places an undue burden on residential property owners because businesses, which have more impervious surface, should pay more.
City Councilman Larry Williams said that as he recalled the conversation prior to adoption of the utility, a higher cap only affected two businesses and had little impact on the revenue collected.
Clallam County Streamkeepers volunteer Ed Chadd said the proposed $6 fee “isn’t bad.”
Williams said the newspaper headline would read that the fee is doubling.
“So how much quicker can we get there if the fee was $10?” he said.
Cutler said an increase to $10 per month would raise about another $400,000 a year.
But the two stormwater control projects done so far---Crown Park in 2005 and Lincoln Street in 2006---took three years to design and build and cost $1.1 million, he said.
Cherie Kidd, a Port Angeles resident and candidate for City Council in the November election, told the public hearing that the city should consider the impact of “utility rate shock” on people living on fixed incomes who only get a small cost of living increase each year.
Cutler said that as with any city utility, the stormwater utility has a program for low- income residents.
Sperr said the city wants to develop a rebate program for property owners who install stormwater controls on their property.
The City Council approved the present stormwater utility ordinance in November 2003.
It includes a flat $3 monthly charge for single-family houses and duplexes.
Developed commercial and industrial properties are charged for impervious surface, up to a maximum of $30 a month or $360 a year.
Vacant lots are not charged unless they are paved.
Reporter Brian Gawley can be reached at 360-417-3532 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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