Leavenworth city commissioners have decided in favor of charging residents for maintenance to the city's stormwater system by adding a fee to annual property tax statements.

Leavenworth city commissioners have decided in favor of charging residents for maintenance to the city's stormwater system by adding a fee to annual property tax statements.

That seemed to be the consensus of commissioners Tuesday. No formal vote was taken during the study session.

Commissioners have not yet established dollar amounts for the fee.

City officials say they have identified more than $83 million in needed maintenance to the stormwater system, which carries rainwater away from buildings and roads. The water is channeled into creeks and watershed areas.

City commissioners previously discussed two possible options for collecting fees to fund stormwater repair projects – a fee that appears on annual property tax statements or a monthly fee that appears on water bills.

City Manager Paul Kramer said Tuesday that "staff would lean toward the property tax" option.

City officials conducted two public meetings in September and October seeking input regarding the options.

According to Public Works Director Mike McDonald, the public meetings resulted in 10 survey responses and one verbal response. Five of the responses were in favor of the property tax statement fee. Five other responses supported a monthly fee on water bills. One respondent asked if a fee could be collected by both methods.

McDonald said Tuesday that adding a fee to monthly water bills would require the city to provide a setup payment to the Leavenworth Water Department. The city also would face an ongoing charge from the Water Department for the collection of the monthly fee.

He said the city would not be charged for having a fee placed on property tax statements issued through the county government.

Mayor Pro-Tem Mark Preisinger said property owners who are exempt from property taxes would still be charged the city's fee for stormwater maintenance.

"This is not a tax," he said. "This is a fee, so no one is exempt from it."

Preisinger said it made sense for the city to utilize property tax statements for charging the fee.

Commissioner Lisa Weakley said she had thought using water bills would be the easiest method. But because of the fees that would be charged to the city, Weakley said she was supporting the property tax option.

Commissioner Larry Dedeke said he also supported the property tax option.

While commissioners have not yet set fee amounts, they were presented examples of possible fee structures during a meeting in July.

The examples divided properties into categories such as single family housing units and commercial properties.

A table of fees that was presented at that time showed examples of fees for single family residences ranging from $36 to $48 per year. The tabled showed a fee of $3,000 per year for the largest industrial properties in the city.

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