Commissioners vote to raise stormwater fees

PORT ORCHARD — The Kitsap County commissioners on Monday unanimously approved a gradual increase to Surface and Stormwater Management (SSWM) fees, despite testimony from several residents that the assessment represented a form of taxation without representation.

“This does sound like a tax increase,” said Central Kitsap Commissioner Patty Lent. “But you are getting a specific service for the extra money you pay.”

The current rate is $50 per “service unit,” which corresponds to each developed parcel. Businesses pay one service unit per 4,200 square feet. So a department store would pay a prorated fee for the area occupied by the store and the parking lot.

The money will be used to support the construction and maintenance of storm drains and flood systems. A separate part of the fund is allocated to replace components before they wear out.

The resolution raises the assessment incrementally, building to $69.80 per unit by 2010. The amount is tacked on to the property tax bill.

“When we survey our citizens about what is important, water quality is always at the top of the list,” said North Kitsap Commissioner Chris Endresen. “So I don’t think they will object to spending a little extra money each year, especially since water quality has improved.”

Only one of the seven who spoke out at Monday’s meeting supported the program.

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