Thursday, August 17, 2006
By RAELYNN RICARTE
News staff writer
August 9, 2006
Hood River residents will soon begin paying a $2.50 monthly fee for maintenance of stormwater drains.
The new service charge takes effect on Sept. 1 and an explanation is being mailed out next week with the water/sewer utility bills.
“We thought that it would be a good idea to anticipate the questions that people might have and then try to answer them,” said Bob Francis, city manager.
The fact sheet covers 10 issues related to the user fee, including how stormwater runoff can cause flooding, pooling, erosion and water pollution.
The City Council approved the fee in July to cover the cost of unfunded water quality mandates set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.
Francis said the $30,000-$50,000 generated from the user fee will finance the costs incurred by the city to control stormwater runoff in compliance with federal and state regulations.
“The City of Hood River is striving to protect its infrastructure, businesses and homes from damage due to flooding. It is also working toward improving the water quality of streams and rivers so that residents and visitors may boat, fish, swim, windsurf and kiteboard in clean water. A stormwater service charge is a fair and equitable system to support stormwater management activities,” states the fact sheet.
The new storm water charge is temporary and could be increased in 18 months when City Engineer Dave Bick has completed a study of impervious surfaces.
Francis said the current fee amount was set in the city’s capital facilities plan adopted in 2001. He said the same charge instituted by other cities at that time is now higher due to cost of living adjustments.
When the issue was revisited in May, Francis said the extra funding could be essential if the city loses $200,000 from its share of funding for the maintenance of roads within the county.
Those dollars were previously brought in by timber receipts from the Mt. Hood National Forest. However, the county is preparing for an end to the compensation paid by federal officials following drastic reductions in harvest level due to environmental restrictions. For more information on the new stormwater service charge call City Engineer Dave Bick at 387-5200.