Kent Council defers increase in storm-drainage rates for next year

Kent City Council members voted unanimously to defer a planned annual increase in storm drainage rates originally scheduled to take effect January 1, 2011.

Kent’s drainage system alleviates potential flooding following a rain storm. The rates charged fund the operations and maintenance of that system which includes the Green River levees, creeks, retention ponds, and 300 miles of pipe systems and storm water pump stations.

According to Council member Dennis Higgins, the rates have been a featured topic at several meetings of the Public Works Committee. “The business community is clearly suffering under the previous rate increase and have asked for relief given the economy and other fees. This is an effort to provide businesses the relief they’re seeking.”

In 2009, Council members approved an ordinance which changed storm drainage fees from a variable rate to a flat fee citywide. But for multi-family and commercial establishments fees are calculated based on the amount of impervious surfaces such as driveways, parking lots and buildings.

Drainage rates were previously scheduled to increase 15% each year for six years in order to fund projects outlined in the City’s Drainage Master Plan which had been recommended by a citizen’s advisory committee in 2008.

Kent’s Public Works Director Tim LaPorte said the effect of the delay is a decrease of approximately $1.9 million in storm water utility funds, forcing a bond sale of roughly $7.5 million to complete top priority projects. “We’ll be able to hold the rate to this year’s level and accomplish our highest priority storm drainage projects in our 2011 work plan.”

“We have a very ambitious workload next year,” said LaPorte. “Our to-do list includes work on the Green River levees, projects to address flooding along Mill Creek at 76th Avenue South, and work to ensure we’re in compliance with our National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit.”

Planned drainage rate increases are slated to resume in January 2012.

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