Fife stormwater rates to double over next 6 years

Staff writerNovember 21, 2013 

Fife residents could start permanently paying higher stormwater rates every year to help fund about $5 million in utility projects.

The proposed rate hike would be steep for the next three years, eventually doubling what residents now pay, before leveling off to smaller annual increases starting in 2017.

The Fife City Council held a public hearing Tuesday night about the proposal that, if approved at the Nov. 26 council meeting, would take effect next year.

Public Works Director Russell Blount said the stormwater system plan hasn’t been updated for more than a decade. He said significant changes in Fife — including development and new permit requirements — create a need for flood-reduction projects.

The proposal calls for 20-percent hikes each year for the next three years, followed by permanent 3-percent hikes annually. For a typical resident who pays $5.60 a month now, that would translate to monthly fees of $6.72 in 2014, $8.06 in 2015 and $9.68 in 2016. The utility doesn’t charge flat rates. The cost to households varies based on factors such as parcel size.

Rates haven’t gone up for eight years, and Blount said Fife residents typically pay much less than ratepayers in neighboring cities. By comparison, typical ratepayers in neighboring Milton pay more than $15 a month.

“The overall rate proposal would double the city’s rates over the next six years or so,” he said during Tuesday’s meeting. “That would just put us to the mid-pack” of other cities in the region.

No members of the public spoke Tuesday.

Councilman Glenn Hull suggested an inflationary-based annual increase. City Manager Dave Zabell said the council could revisit or change it later.

Council member Tim Curtis urged city staff to prioritize projects in neighborhoods most prone to flooding. Blount said those flood-prone areas represent the top five of the 17 proposed projects.

Zabell said sewer rates will remain the same, and water will see a long-planned 2 percent increase.

Kari Plog: 253-597-8682 kari.plog@ @KariPlog.

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