Stormwater fees take a toll on local businesses

Stormwater fees take a toll on local businesses »Play Video
Adele's Mini Storage owner Jeff Port.
ASOTIN - Most Asotin County residents are paying $60 a year for the stormwater fee.

"Five dollars doesn't sound bad," said Early Bird Supply co-owner Nita Batterton. "That's a mocha per month for that."

Some residents are riled up, while others aren't bothered. However, businesses and large property owners are getting much more expensive bills. Batterton said their stormwater fee is nearly $5,000 a year.

"I did make the first payment," said Batterton. "I haven't made the second one yet. I'm fighting so we'll see."

Some businesses have already had to raise costs to deal with the stormwater fee. Adele's Mini Storage owner Jeff Port said he raised prices across the board.

"I pride myself on being the best value for a storage company in the Valley and keep my prices lower than anybody else so I want to maintain that," said Port. "I just kind of raised it the minimum that I had to."

Port built the units with drainage in mind, long before stormwater was mandated.

"The drain on the slab that we're standing on goes into a catch basin then it's piped into one of the french drains that runs down the full length of each one of these driveways," said Port. "All the non-permeable surface that's on the buildings is gathered in gutter systems and then it's dropped into pipes and then it goes into the french drains as well. So all the non permeable surface is maintained on site."

Port has already spent $20,000 on the stormwater drainage system he installed himself. But all that money is down the drain. Asotin County still charges him a $1400 a year stormwater fee. And with new construction, that number will only rise.

"I spent all this money and there was no benefit to me financially because now I have to pay as if I'm dumping water into the street or not maintaining my own stormwater so now I'm paying twice for the same thing," said Port.

He said he just wants it to be fair. At Monday's regional stormwater meeting, group members said they would look at a way of compensating Port for his efforts.

"This is not the stormwater money," said Batterton. "This is paid for by you and me. So when they think of us as other than the people, for the people, and by the people then we're a little bit out of control here."