Langley moving ahead on stormwater rate increase proposal

LANGLEY — The city of Langley is inching forward on changing how it handles stormwater and how to pay for it.

The city council at its meeting Monday night scheduled a public hearing at its next regular meeting May 4 for a first reading of the proposal.

“The city hasn’t been responsive to its own budget,” Mayor Paul Samuelson said. “This is a big deal.”

At issue is a $115,000-per-year shortfall in annual stormwater management that is being subsidized by the roads department budget.

A report commissioned by the city said Langley collects $25,000 per year from existing stormwater rates, well below actual annual expenses of $140,000.

The same stormwater rate structure has been in place since 1994.

The residential rate would have to be raised from the current $2.90 per month to $13.49 just to break even, with no money for improvements.

The report suggests gradually raising the residential fee to support and improve the stormwater system from the current $2.90 per household per month to $22.10 by 2014.

Over six years, the annual residential rate would increase in increments from $34.80 to $265.20.

The increase would help make up the annual deficit for maintenance, operation and debt service of the current system, and to help finance $2.3 million in expansion and improvements over 20 years.

Samuelson said that although the city faces different circumstances from Glendale, the small beach community near Clinton that was flooded because of a burst beaver dam and a washed-out roadway, “it’s better to be penny wise than pound foolish.”

“We have a lot of water running underneath our city,” he said.

Samuelson said the next step in the process would involve council consideration of the plan without a commitment to specific projects or rate levels.

He urged residents to continue to voice their opinions.

“We have to make sure we’re making the right choices,” Samuelson said.

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