Updated stormwater plan moves ahead in Langley

A comprehensive proposal to update the city's plan to deal with stormwater runoff was approved by the Langley City Council on first reading after a public hearing Monday night.

Adoption of a new rate structure to implement the plan was put off for further discussion.

The plan sets out a priority for upgrading the city's stormwater system in the next 20 years.

The first five items on the list, considered the most critical, would be financed by an increase in stormwater rates. It is hoped the next two would be financed by grants, said Challis Stringer, the city's public works director.

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

A $90,000 report commissioned by the city said the Langley collects $25,000 per year from existing stormwater rates, well below actual annual expenses of $140,000.

The same stormwater plan and 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 would help finance $2.3 million in expansion and improvements over 20 years.

Council members stressed that the cost of the improvement projects are just estimates, and the rate increases are just suggestions.

But members emphasized that changes need to be made.

"Our roads are being ruined because we're not dealing with stormwater," said Councilwoman Rene Neff, who with other members of the council took a walking tour of the worst-effected areas. "We need to take care of them."

The final reading and adoption of the updated plan is expected at the next council meeting on May 18.

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