Though they voted down the Utility Latecomers Agreement with the Eastown landowners, the Bonney Lake City Council is still pursuing new avenues to get sewer lines in the ground to try and spur development.
The city is researching a new funding method that would involve adding additional fees to developers in Eastown on top of the sewer system development charges in an attempt to recoup the investment of paying for the pipes.
“What we’re looking at … is imposing a surcharge to accomplish the same thing (as the ULA),” City Administrator Don Morrison said.
The issue was discussed recently at the council and in the finance committee and Morrison said the method appears legal, but there is no precedent in Bonney Lake on how to implement such as
There are still some questions, however, as to how the additional charges would work because SDCs are based on equivalency dwelling units and not land size, as the agreement with the landowner corporation was.
Under the ULA, the city would have partnered with the landowner corporation to fund the project and was designed so the city and the investors would recoup their money as developers connected to the system.
Morrison said the new method would be similar, without the initial investment from the landowners.
“It’s a different way to accomplish the same thing without a partner,” Morrison said.
Councilman Tom Watson, who voted against the original ULA due to the size of the investment and concerns that Eastown would not develop within the 20-year time frame of the agreement that would allow the city to recoup its money, said he is in favor of the new plan.
“I think it’s a lot better that way,” he said of the additional charges.
Watson has also said he would support a smaller system – a $2million backbone instead of the full $4 million design – paid for entirely by the city.
Deputy Mayor Dan Swatman, who supported the ULA, said he is concerned about the how the additional charge would work.
“It’s very difficult to use,” he said.
Swatman said he still supports a ULA because he feels partnership with the landowners is “best chance” to recoup the money and it would be the “fairest way to distribute charges.”
“That directly puts the charges on the property owners that benefit in a proportional way,” he said.
Swatman said he heard from members of the corporation that they would be interested in supporting the smaller backbone at the 5 percent rate city code allows.
“Everybody’s looking for a solution, we just haven’t gotten there yet,” he said.