Hoquiam revisits eliminating new development water, sewer hookup fees

Hoquiam is taking another look at eliminating new development capital facility charges — the fees paid by developers to tap into the city’s water and sewer systems.

In November, an ordinance to eliminate those fees was brought before the City Council. The ordinance was tabled to the city’s Utilities Committee for more information after the council debated the value of those fees and the possibility of lowering — rather than eliminating — those fees.

Mayor Ben Winkelman told the council Monday that he was still in favor of eliminating the fees, saying they discouraged new development in the city.

Winkelman Monday referenced the $3.25 million grant awarded to Coastal Community Action Program (CCAP) to develop 24 low-income housing units.

“One of the reasons, and there are many (for eliminating the fees), is we have a project for CCAP that has been funded for IndieDwell to put together some low-income units in Grays Harbor County,” and a location is being sought, “and if that charge does apply it may be a deciding factor for some of those projects,” for IndieDwell and others, to build in other areas of the county.

The fees range from more than $3,000 for a 3/4-inch meter to nearly $400,000 for a 10-inch meter. In November, city Finance Director Corri Schmid said Hoquiam’s fees are much higher than those in surrounding cities.

The ordinance will be discussed by the committee before the next City Council meeting and could be brought back for consideration at the Feb. 8 meeting.

“I obviously would like to see it eliminated, or almost eliminated,” said Winkelman, adding the capital facilities charges lost would be made up by having another property on the tax roles and paying into the city’s utilities systems in a few years’ time.