Port Townsend City Council members approved a new fee schedule for use at the Mountain View Pool. (Peninsula Daily News file)

Port Townsend City Council members approved a new fee schedule for use at the Mountain View Pool. (Peninsula Daily News file)

Port Townsend increases stormwater rates, pool fees

Council discusses housing tax exemptions

PORT TOWNSEND — The Port Townsend City Council has approved its first stormwater rate increase in more than a decade and included annual bumps through 2023 to keep up with costs for maintenance and operations.

Council members also approved a new fee schedule for use at the Mountain View Pool.

In a wide-ranging meeting Monday night at City Hall, the council conducted a public hearing on proposed tax exemptions and fee waivers to encourage low-income housing development, and staff provided a briefing on possible code amendments related to housing that the planning commission has recommended.

“There remains a lot of people who say the city has contributed nothing toward affordable housing,” said council member Michelle Sandoval.

“The one thing that the city has done for many years is to contribute in this manner, which has contributed a good deal of money.”

Decisions on both issues are scheduled for next month after John Mauro takes over as city manager.

Mauro, the former chief sustainability officer in Auckland, New Zealand, accepted the job in July. His first day is Nov. 1.

Interim city manager Nora Mitchell, who stepped in to lead the city following David Timmons’ retirement at the end of June, will return to her post as the director of finance and administrative services.

The stormwater monthly base charge will increase Jan. 1 from $7.25 to $7.98, Finance Manager Tony Hillman said.

The rate will be in effect for all single-family homes where the impervious surface on the lot doesn’t exceed 3,000 square feet. A formula was established in the approved resolution for lots with an impervious surface greater than that size.

The impervious surface refers to artificial structures that may include sidewalks and driveways.

Hillman said the increase will generate about $60,000 in revenue for 2020.

“It will bring the fund back within our 60-day reserve policy and keep up with inflation,” he said.

Council members doubled the stormwater capital surcharge to $6 in April to pay for projects through 2023 that total nearly $1.9 million.

The Rainier Street regional stormwater facility takes up the bulk of those costs at $808,000. Other planned projects include improvements on Discovery Road, general system upgrades, 16th Street from Sheridan Street to Landes Street, and local street improvements.

The current stormwater fund is projecting a $25,000 deficit for 2019, Hillman said.

The last increase in the monthly rate was in 2007, he said.

Additional adjustments will be for a monthly rate of $8.33 in 2021, $8.63 in 2022 and $8.93 in 2023, according to city documents.

Hillman said that will put stormwater on the same schedule as the rest of the utilities.

Council members waived council rules and passed it unanimously on first reading.

The pool fee schedule also will go into effect Jan. 1. It was passed as part of the council’s consent agenda Monday after it was discussed during a council workshop July 12.

The biggest changes will be in the multi-visit passes.

For example, a 12-month family pass will be $850, an increase from $750.

Several other long-term passes will go up $100, although 20-punch passes will have smaller increases ranging from $5 to $15.

The fees are intended to bring the pool in line with a 2016 city financial policy that states the pool will strive to recover half of its costs by generating revenues.

Visitation has increased annually since 2017, but salary and wage increases are still more than the fees are recovering, according to city documents.

The 2019 projected expenses for the pool are $64,798 and revenue is short at $43,684, documents state.

The new fee schedule also takes into account that the state minimum wage will increase from $12 per hour to $13.50 per hour in January.

The new fee schedule can be viewed as part of Monday’s agenda packet at tinyurl.com/PDN-PTPoolFees.

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Jefferson County Managing Editor Brian McLean can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 6, or at bmclean@peninsuladailynews.com.

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