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Council discusses proposed ordinance for city sewer fees
Bonney Lake City Council members discussed a proposed ordinance relating to sewer costs and categories at their June 16 workshop.
Public Works Director Dan Grigsby said once his staff began updating the sewer code Attachment A, which is 23 years old, they decided it would be a good time to clarify other parts of the code.
He said one of the changes to the code was to replace the 2005 sewer connection fee ($8,000) with the 2009 connection fee (9,099). This was not an increase, it was just updating the code.
Councilman James Rackley said the city didn’t raise the fee $1,100 overnight, but over a period of years.
Grigsby said his department has an analysis that recommends reducing sewer charges for family housing from 77 to 73 percent of the rate.
Another change in the proposed ordinance, Grigsby said, is when the total connection fee calculated is greater than two Residential Equivalents, the fee due at the time of the building permit shall be equal to two REs.
He said developers can pay the remainder of the fee in 12 monthly installment with interest or pay the entire amount at once.
Grigsby noted a change to calculate of nonresidential sewer connection. The proposed ordinance states System Development Charges will be levied for each new sewer service connection and for a service upgrade generating additional flows.
SDCs are based on an equitable share of the cost of the existing sewer system and future facilities necessary to accommodate projected growth.
Another change in the ordinance addressed nonresidential applicants who do not fall into Schedule A. The charge will be based on an engineer’s certified estimate of flow and will be reviewed after one year of water use data.
“We are suggesting developers to prepare an analysis and show us what a similar facility they own is consuming,” Grigsby said. “Then we’ll review it after a year and adjust their fee for water consumption.”
Grigsby suggested the rates be updated annually.
“We’re trying to modify the ordinance to more clearly show what the actual process is,” said Grigsby. “It makes it easier for staff and makes it clearer for developers and prospective builders to use this process. It’s a work in progress which will not be completed until the update to the Comprehensive Sewer System Plan is adopted later this year.”
Bonney Lake had the sixth-highest rate in the state at $8,797, according to data from the Association of Washington Cities 2008 tax and use fee survey.
Bonney Lake residents saw the biggest increase in monthly water and sewer rates in 1994. Water rates went up by 60 percent from $8.80 to $14.08 and sewer had a 50.70 percent increase.
During citizen comments at the June 2 council meeting, Raymond Frey of Halsen-Frey LLC of Bellevue, asked the city to reconsider its fee structure. Frey said the marketplace needs correction and it may take up to 10 years to see home market prices they were two or three years ago.
“We are in a very, very serious predicament,” Frey said. “We need all the help we can get to make us competitive.”
Frey said he replied to an e-mail sent by Mayor Neil Johnson to see how the city could help developers. He said the city needs to reduce fees to 2003 or 2004 levels.
He asked the council to look at projects in the city’s six-year transportation plan and see if there are projects which could be delayed for a year or more.
“It would allow us this year to be competitive,” Frey said.
Frey said because of the city’s fees, Winco is planning to locate in Sumner.
“I want to say we lost them because of fees, we lost them on timing,” replied Frey. “They wanted fast action and they were able to do it down below.”
He said Winco complained about the city fees.
Frey said his company has some desirable locations within the city for developers to build, but only one user has contacted him.
He said a bank is wanting to locate in Bonney Lake, but would face $98,000 in fees per 1,000 square feet. The 3,000-square foot building would cost nearly $300,000 in impact fees, Frey said.
Frey suggested cutting traffic impact fees and restructuring sewer and water impact fees per bedroom, instead of by unit. He presented the council with an example of a single-family home generating more than $4,000 in impact fees, compared with an apartment unit that creates approximately $2,400 in fees.
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