Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Now that the Port of Sunnyside and the business and industrial sector have had their say on Sunnyside's oft-debated stormwater fee, it's time for Sunnyside residents to speak up about the fees.
The fee set-up has been repealed and the city will start over from scratch. Council is meeting tonight, Wednesday, at 6:30 p.m. in the Law and Justice Center to consider appointing a blue ribbon citizen's committee. The committee will be charged with coming up with recommendations for a new fee system.
For residents, even those with small modest home sites, you can expect your stormwater assessment to go up.
How high they will go will depend in good part on this committee council is forming.
According to one format proposed, there is the potential that only three of the nine citizen committee seats will actually be filled by citizens, residents, of Sunnyside.
One idea is that the other six seats would go to those who own property downtown, a Port of Sunnyside official, those who own property along Yakima Valley Highway, an agricultural land owner, a church and a large industrial landowner.
Yes, all nine would be property owners in Sunnyside. But there's only a guarantee that three would actually live in Sunnyside and have to pay the residential rate.
For a year or so, residents quietly paid stormwater fees while business and industry did not.
Business, industry and farm land owners have been vocal at council meetings now that they are being assessed the stormwater fee. They were upset, and rightly so, at stormwater fees that charged thousands of dollars a year, in some cases for pasture land.
Kudos to council's decision to scrap the whole fee system and start from scratch.
But residents need to be vocal now, both about getting on this "citizen's" committee and making sure the pendulum doesn't swing the other direction and unfairly charge residents for stormwater fees.
After all, two wrongs don't make a right.