City of Portland to Increase Stormwater Fees for Drainage District Landowners (East Columbia Neighborhood)
This week all residents/landowners of East Columbia neighborhood should have received a letter from the City’s Bureau of Environmental Services notifying them of a substantial increase to our stormwater fees.
As part of the Multnomah County Drainage District (MCDD) /PEN2 we are currently assessed a fee on our property taxes for handling stormwater fees, MCDD handles our stormwater and pays the City on our behalf for off-site charges. The City terminated that agreement and is now proposing to charge us directly on our water/sewer bill beginning October 1st. Rates will increase significantly – about 10-15x what they are currently. Single family residents currently pay approximately $15/year. This would increase to $150-$200/year.
The City has scheduled two public meetings:
- Weds. June 27th at the Sheraton Hotel at the Airport, 8236 NE Airport Way
- Thurs. June 28th at the Water Pollution Control Lab, 6543 N. Burlington.
Both meetings begin at 6:30pm
Currently MCDD pays the City $600,000 a year for off-site stormwater fees. The City estimates it will cost them $8 million dollars for the same service. The drainage district can provide these services more efficiently, and because they are not unionized, less costly. As a result of the increased fees to drainage district residents, the rest of the City will see a small reduction in their fees.The rest of the City does not pay for the costs drainage district landowners pay for which are:
- protection to the 35 miles of levee systems
- maintenance and operation of pump stations that protect many businesses, the Expo Center, PIR, both interstate freeways (I-5 and I-205) but more importantly NE Marine Dr and the airport.
- protection to well fields that are a backup to Bull Run water when heavy rains cause turbidity in the drinking water supply.
- handling stormwater that passes through the districts from other parts of Portland on the way to the Columbia River
The City claims they are seeking an equitable payment solution for all ratepayers in Portland. There is no dispute that there should be equitable payments, however, there should be equity for all costs and not burden the residents of the drainage districts for services which benefit the whole city and commerce of the region.
The City should engage in good public involvement and give residents more than 7 days notice for such an important and critical change in City policy.
There should be detailed information of actual costs involved and how fees are structured.
Equity on payment should be for all stormwater services and at a rate that is cost effective.
PLEASE attend one of these meetings and voice your concerns. We need to let the City know we are concerned about how this is being handled. If you are unable to attend you can send comments to City Council members, or contact Vicki Grudzinski, 503-823-7124, firstname.lastname@example.org.