Capping a lengthy journey, the Enumclaw City Council took a final step and established a monthly rate for the new stormwater utility.
Action came the evening of Aug. 13 as part of a brief council gathering.
The 6-1 vote ended a process that had been talked about for years, picked up steam last fall and was authorized as part of the council’s 2018 budget. While it had been mandated that a new utility would become effective in September, the cost was not set in stone until the meeting of the 13th.
Stormwater joins things like water and sewer services, natural gas and trash collection as one of the city’s “enterprise funds” – meaning revenues must match expenses and money collected can be used solely for that utility.
Following a recommendation from its Public Works Committee, the council agreed on a monthly rate of $5.24 per “equivalent service unit.” A single-family home counts as a single ESU; larger parcels will be assessed one ESU for every 3,200 square feet of impervious surface. Those surfaces include things like buildings, parking lots and paved driveways, anything that prevents water from naturally seeping into the ground.
Stormwater consists primarily of rainfall, but can include water from washing cars or sprinkling lawns and gardens.
The monthly charge – totaling about $63 annually for homeowners – is expected to cover the basic operation and maintenance of the new utility ($4.44), provide funds for debt service (53 cents) and build a fund for future capital needs (27 cents).
City customers will first see the stormwater assessment on their September utility bills.
The only objection Aug. 13 came from Councilman Hoke Overland, who again shared his belief that the Enumclaw School District should be granted a 50 percent discount on its assessment. The district had earlier lobbied for a financial break, noting that a smaller fee can legally be charged in exchange for related educational offerings.
City Attorney Mike Reynolds countered Overland’s plea, noting that other ratepayers would have to pick up the difference if the school system was given a rate discount.
In the end, the resolution establishing the monthly rate passed with only Overland objecting.
Council also hears from church
During the “audience comments” portion of their Aug. 13 agenda, Enumclaw City Council members heard from four people associated with the local First Baptist Church.
Members of the congregation are hoping to install an electronic sign at the front of their property, but are currently prohibited from doing so. The congregation hopes things will soon change in their favor.
The church is in an interesting situation, fronting on state Route 169 but located within a residential zone. The city’s existing sign code does not allow for electronic readerboards in a zone that is, in theory, designed for homes.
Church members were being proactive, however, stating their case while the city goes through the process of updating its sign code. The city’s Planning Commission will draft a new sign code and make a recommendation to the City Council, which has the final say.
Three members of the First Baptist congregation, plus the Rev. James Dunn, stated their case before the council.