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The City of Fife has created a storm drainage utility because Federal law requires cities establish programs and funding capabilities to address cleaning and controlling storm water. The City Council set rates that it believed fair and appropriate in order to fund programs that are necessary to meet local needs and comply with federal regulations. The programs will improve the environment and reduce flooding; the specific balance of work, funding, and rates involved compromise, and no compromise can leave every party fully satisfied.
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Under federal guidelines, the City of Fife is responsible for all water discharged into natural water bodies. This includes “interflow” that is intercepted by storm systems, (“interflow” is water that soaks a short distance into the ground and then moves laterally before returning to the surface.) In fact, many potential pollutants reach surface waters through this path, as the water that soaks into lawns picks up pesticides or fertilizers and carries them to waterways. The city’s storm utility will fund the monitoring of such pollutants.
The city’s storm utility will also fund future improvements that may include construction of storm drains near your property. Like many governments and private parties, the City of Fife funds projects through a combination of cash financing and borrowing. It must put aside funds in advance of building projects in order to pay cash for project costs or for a down payment towards borrowed funds.
Impervious area is the area in which runoff does not soak directly soak into the ground. The City of Fife storm rates vary for five classes of property, based on the percentage of impervious area: 0-20, 20-40, etc., so unless a specific property is right at the break in category, a few square feet more or less doesn’t impact the rate.
The three levels of government are paying for three parts of the storm drainage system, not for the same system three times. It could be compared to a restaurant and seeing the menu with separate prices for appetizers, entrées, and a desserts. A la carte pricing does not mean that the diner has to pay three times for the same meal, but it does mean that the final bill will show three separate charges for food. With respect to the drainage district assessments, if district 21 or 23 charges a property, it is because the district commissioners have determined that the property receives a benefit from district activities. In most cases, for property that is not directly adjacent to a district-maintained main-line stream or ditch, it is because runoff from the property reaches the stream or ditch through either a private or municipal pipe or ditch or it is determined to reach the ditch through interflow.
The City of Fife is charging for water quality monitoring, for funds to construct improvements to the local collection system, and for programs to support the legal mandate of the Federal Clean Water Act. Pierce County Surface Water Management has a variety of programs; the one with the greatest benefit to Fife is the maintenance of the Puyallup River levee system.
The City’s storm drainage billing is not expected to end, though it may be adjusted as projects are completed, environmental regulations change, or inflation reduces the value of revenues. The City of Fife’s rates, which are based are impervious area, do not have the “built in” inflation adjuster of the drainage districts’ rates, which are based on assessed value.
The City of Fife is committed to completing the capital program as described above, and to updating that to address other problems in the future. The City is prohibited from providing improvements on private property unless such improvements benefit the general public. The long range goal is to provide an effective drainage system throughout the City of Fife.
Yes, if you have tenants at your property, or if you use a real estate or financial management company, the City of Fife is willing to bill an alternate address. It will be necessary that the property owner fill out and sign a form directing the City of Fife to bill an alternate address and acknowledging that the property owner is responsible for ultimate payment. You may get the form by calling Fife City Hall at 253-922-2489.
Please Note: You must sign and return the form to Fife City Hall – faxed, mailed or dropped off at the City Hall front counter. Electronic copies are not acceptable.
The Finance Department wants you to know that there are a few standard procedures in paying your utility bills that will make the process more efficient for everyone.