There'll be a hike in stormwater rates for Wenatchee property owners in 2024.

The annual rate increase is moving from 3.5 percent to 6 percent, which will cost property owners an average of $8.77 more a year.

The city council passed the increased rate, which will offset cost increases for maintenance supplies and personnel as well as a sharp 50 percent increase in construction costs.

Public works Department Deputy Director Jessica Shaw told city councilors Thursday that they hadn't looked at stormwater rates since 2019 before asking for the new change.

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She said they've made some cutbacks in other projects to keep the stormwater increase to a minimum.

"We don't take this lightly, asking for an increase in rates, but we did make some adjustments to some of our capital programs to phase projects out," said Shaw. "We've been working really hard to get grants to really stretch those utility dollars."

Shaw called it a "small change" increase.

The 3.5 percent hike will bring stormwater rate in line with sewer rates, which increase 6 percent annually.

Shaw noted that water rates will increase by 12 percent in January, but will be reduced to 6 percent in 2025, which will bring uniformity to all utility rates.

There's also a low-income discount of 40 percent for disabled people, senior citizens and active military reserve service members.

Shaw said the stormwater rate increase is being taken in anticipation of changes in state Department of Ecology regulations that'll lead to a need for more staff members.

The new state regulations will not go into effect until 2027.

Mayor Frank Kuntz said Wenatchee is situated in a unique location for stormwater compared to other cities.

"Our stormwater, when you look at it, is more expensive than almost all of them, but we live in a valley," said Kuntz. "And when it rains hard in all of those hills, all that water comes down. Moses Lake doesn't have that problem. Walla Walla doesn't have that problem, but because of where we live, the beauty of this place also makes it more expensive for us to have to treat stormwater than other cities in our region."

City staff cut the 2024 operations and maintenance budget by $336,000 and delayed or phased several capital projects, according to the city council agenda.

Ecology will be issuing a new Eastern Washington Stormwater Permit in 2024 with increased requirements for development review and inspections, including increased regulations for street sweeping.

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