Ferndale homeowners' stormwater fees to go up next year

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDApril 19, 2014 

FERNDALE - Homeowners will see increases to their stormwater bills starting at the end of the year, after the Ferndale City Council approves the rate hikes at its Monday, April 21, meeting.

Council opted for a gradual approach to the increases - from $10 a month for residences to $11 in 2015, $12 in 2016, $13 in 2017 and $14 in 2018. Last month council rejected a proposal that would have increased the residential stormwater bill to $14 on July 1 of this year.

Starting in 2019, the stormwater fee will follow cost-of-living increases.

Council decided to soften the blow to stormwater customers and issue bonds in 2014 and 2019 to make up the difference in revenue, city spokesman Sam Taylor said. The city will issue an $8.5 million bond this year, to borrow money that will pay for sewer system and stormwater improvements. Of that amount, $500,000 will be earmarked for stormwater, Taylor said.

The city will issue another bond to borrow $500,000 for the stormwater system in 2019, Taylor said.

The rate increases were long anticipated to meet the increasing cost of stormwater treatment in a growing city and more stringent state and federal pollution regulations.

The increases are almost certain to pass. They were placed on the council's consent agenda, which is typically approved without debate. The council ironed out the ordinance in discussions over the past few months.

The council meeting starts at 6 p.m. Monday at Council Chambers, 5694 Second Ave.

Reach Ralph Schwartz at 360-715-2289 or ralph.schwartz@bellinghamherald.com. Read his Politics blog at bellinghamherald.com/politics-blog or get updates on Twitter at @bhampolitics.

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