With construction starting on a new sewer lift station in Bonney Lake, the City Council is planning on property owners in the Midtown area reimbursing the city for the cost of the project over the next two decades.
The official term for this is creating an Assessment Reimbursement Area, but people who live in the Midtown area – west of Angeline Road, south of Sumner-Buckley Highway, east of 214th Avenue and north of state Route 410 – should know that reimbursement is not automatic and relies on several specific conditions.
Property owners in the Kelley Glade subdivision are exempt from the Assessment Reimbursement Area.
The city mailed letters to property owners in the Assessment Reimbursement Area about the city’s plans on May 4, with the majority received by city residents.
Bonney Lake’s Public Work’s Director Dan Grigsby answered questions on the Assessment Reimbursement Area during a public meeting May 12 and the council received comments during a public hearing on the subject May 24, the same day the council authorized the sewer lift station construction project.
The council discussed the comments received during the public hearing June 7 and officially created the Assessment Reimbursement Area during the council meeting June 14.
The Assessment Reimbursement Area is to stay in effect for the next 20 years, the maximum time allowed, said Public Works Director Dan Grigsby.
In short, this Assessment Reimbursement Area will require residents to reimburse the city for the cost of the lift station, but only if and when property owners connect to the city’s sewer line.
At the moment, the only property owners affected by the Assessment Reimbursement Area are the developers of Skystone Apartments along Sumner-Buckley Highway, because they’re the only property owners building on land connected to the city’s sewer line. The sewer line doesn’t currently reach the other properties in the Assessment Reimbursement Area.
The cost of reimbursement is directly tied to how many Equivalent Residential Units are owned by a property owner – a singly family home, for example, is considered one Equivalent Residential Unit.
Apartments, depending on their size, can vary in how many Equivalent Residential Units they’re worth. For example, Skystone Apartments is planning on building 288 apartments, equivalent to 193 Equivalent Residential Units.
For every one Equivalent Residential Unit, property owners would be expected to pay the city around $3,030 if and when they connect their property to the city’s sewer line.
The $3,030 reimbursement fee, also known at a Latecomer Fee, is an initial projection and may be adjusted once all costs are finalized after construction of the sewer lift station is competed.
There are a few situations when a property owner can be required to connect to the city’s sewer line.
The construction of commercial property is one instance when the sewer line will be required to connect. Bonney Lake considers multi-family developments like apartment complexes commercial property.
Another instance is when property is built or sold and is within 250 feet of an active sewer line. Grigsby said either the seller or the buyer can pay the Latecomer Fee.
The final instance is if a property owner’s septic tank fails and the property is within 250 feet of the sewer line. The property owner would then be required to connect their property to the sewer line and pay the Latecomer Fee.
And while the city has the eventual goal of expanding the sewer line to more properties in the Midtown area, Grigsby said he doesn’t know when that expansion will occur.
“It’s very unlikely the city will be able to find the money to do that in the foreseeable future,” Grigsby said during the May 12 public hearing, adding that the city could not rule out the possibility of a future grant being obtained, or state or federal mandates being instated and requiring connection to the city sewer system.
Grigsby said the new sewer lift station will not effect monthly sewer rates in the area that will remain at $87 for a single family.
Kelley Glade exemption
The Bonney Lake City Council decided the Kelley Glade subdivision was exempt from the Assessment Reimbursement Area during the June 7 council workshop because of its modern septic system and the fact the city does not expect the area to re-develop.
For these reasons, it did not make sense for the city to include the area in the Assessment Reimbursement Area because it was unlikely the city would receive the Latecomer Fee from those property owners, Grigsby said.
“If a house is not going to connect to the sewer system, you cannot require the property owner to pay the Latecomer Fee,” he said. “If you did include a property in calculating the Latecomer Fee and then never collected that fee from the property owner, this would just be a cost to existing sewer customers.”
Not including the Kelley Glade subdivision increased the preliminary latecomer fee from an estimated $2,853 to the current projection of $3,030 for all other property owners in the Assessment Reimbursement Area.