At a Nov. 6 meeting, the North Bend city council discussed possible increases to property tax rates for 2019, a general facility charge increase, and a future park plan amendment.
The council began with a public hearing and ordinance updating the sewer general facility charges (GFC) and amending taxes, rates and fees schedule. The GFC is paid by sewer customers to support maintenance and improvement of the system. The proposed change is an increase of 43 percent over the current GFC charge. In the city’s example, one equivalent residential unit pays $8,400, that cost would rise to $12,020.
The GFC is proposed to be increased because wastewater facilities improvement project costs have risen from a projected $15.6 million in 2016 to $25 million in 2018.
In 2016, the city council adjusted the GFC along with a sewer rate adjustment. In that same year, the city completed its wastewater system facilities plan that outlined $15.6 million in improvement projects within the following five-year period.
In discussion, councilmember Martin Volken asked staff why the rising costs were not foreseen earlier. Since the plan was first completed in 2016, several factors have increased the price of construction. Trade wars increasing the price of steel and concrete were one of the reasons cited in the meeting. In addition the original facilities plan only included projects within the next five years. The new update will include additional projects on the longer term schedule in order for the city to be able to capture funding and avoid a huge GFC increase in the future.
Councilmember Trevor Kostanich asked about possible discounts or incentive for commercial use to promote business growth in the city. Councilmember Johnathan Rosen agreed, saying he is worried the perception of the city as a place for business would worsen further if the GFC increase is passed without considerations for businesses.
The council agreed that they want to see commercial incentives, but in order to make the changes in the ordinance the motion was tabled and sent back to committee. The council will return to discuss the ordinance at its Nov. 20 meeting.
The council also held a public hearing and discussion on the 2019 property tax levy. Staff presented two options to the council. One option is no increase over 2018’s property tax which would total $1,728,545 for the city. The second option is a 1-percent increase over the 2018 rate for a total of $1,745,056. The staff report notes the 2019 proposed budget was calculated with no increase assumed.
At the current rate, an average North Bend home valued at $450,000 would be assessed at $44 per month in 2019, which would actually be a decrease from $46 in 2018.
Because the assessed value will be lower next year, the 1 percent increase would have an overall impact of a 0.83 percent increase at $45 per month.
No public comment was made during the meeting. The council did not vote. The property tax levy will come before the council again at a meeting on Nov. 20.
The full city council agenda and video archive is available on the city’s website at northbendwa.gov.