The Bonney Lake City Council looks to be scrapping its previous plan for having Midtown city residents reimburse the city for the new Fennel Creek sewer lift station, in response to negative reactions from residents.
Instead of an Assessment Reimbursement Area, which the council said was both looked on negatively by residents and was a cumbersome piece of work for the city, the council discussed adding a surcharge to the sewer system charge during the Oct. 4 council workshop.
The council believes this system to be more equitable for all residents benefiting from the new sewer lift station, although this new surcharge plan is still being discussed, with the related ordinance – Ordinance D16-104 – having been moved to the Oct. 18 workshop for further discussion about the surcharge rate.
What’s in the works
Instead of an Assessment Reimbursement Area, the new Ordinance D16-104 enacts a simple surcharge that residents will pay when the connect to the city’s sewer line.
Property owners only have to connect to the city sewer line if one of three specific conditions are met:
• When commercial property is built, the city’s sewer line must be expanded and connect to the property.
• When property is bought or sold and is within 250 feet of an active sewer line.
• When a property’s septic system fails and is within 250 feet of an active sewer line.
Had the council approved the Assessment Reimbursement Area plan, property owners would have had to pay a latecomer fee of $3,030 when they connected to the city’s sewer line for every equivalent residential unit on the property.
A single family home equals one equivalent residential unit.
The surcharge may not be much less than what the latecomer fee would have been.
According to Ordinance D16-104, the council agreed to a flat surcharge rate of $3,000 per residential equivalent unit during the Sept. 6 workshop.
However, the councilwoman Katrina Minton-Davis led the charge to lower the surcharge on Oct. 4.
“Tacking on an additional cost to our residents… creates a burden and stifles development,” Minton-Davis said.
Although Morrison said the $3,000 surcharge was a defendable estimate, the council seemed to agree to come back during the Oct. 18 workshop to discuss a lower surcharge, with the caveat that the surcharge could be amended in the future following an official rate study.
While the fee may not change a whole lot, there are some benefits for property owners under the new plan as opposed to what would have happened in an Assessment Reimbursement Area, Morrison said.
The big difference between the two plans is that under Ordinance D16-104, there is no 20 year time limit like there would have been under the Assessment Reimbursement Area.
According to Morrison, the lack of a timeline seems to have alleviated property owner’s fears that the city had plans to expand its sewer line in the next two decades and “force” residents into connecting to the line while they still had adequately operational septic systems.
Having no expiration date also helps the city. If the city’s sewer line did not expand in 20 years, and no midtown residents connected to the sewer line, the city would have had to eat the cost of the Fennel Creek sewer list station without reimbursement.
Another difference is that a surcharge does not need to be recorded with the county, so sellers will not have the surcharge show up on their title reports.
“Thus, a surcharge does not affect properties in the area unless they to connect to the sewer system,” said Morrison.
The council also discussed their timeline for getting the necessary paperwork completed for Costco to move into the Washington State University Forest area.
Council members are currently looking at approving amendments to the 2009 WSU development agreement and a new development agreement between Costco as the anchor tenant and Visconsi Land Company, the developer.
The amendments and new development agreement, said City Attorney Kathleen Haggard, largely have to do with who is responsible for what work to be done before Costco can move in.
According to Haggard, Visconsi will be responsible for extending 204th Avenue East to connect to SR 410 while Bonney Lake is responsible for SR 410 improvements, including a new traffic light at the future 204th Ave intersection.
Morrison said the current estimated cost for the light project is between $3 and $4 million.
The next step for the city is to schedule a public hearing on the new development agreement, which was held Tuesday, Oct. 11, after press deadline.
The council then plans to discuss the public hearing during the Oct. 18 workshop, to be followed by possible action as early as Oct. 25.