Kalispell Proposing Forestry, Storm Sewer Rate Increases

City council is slated to take action on the latest annual budget at its Aug. 21 meeting

By Dillon Tabish
City Hall in downtown Kalispell. Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon

The city is proposing a pair of rate increases to address storm sewer and urban forestry needs.

Kalispell, in its latest annual budget, is proposing a 50 percent increase over the next year for its storm sewer maintenance assessments. An average single family residence would see its annual rate increase from $44.55 to $66.83. Average commercial properties would see their annual rates increase from between $500-$624 to $749-$926 a year.

The rates would continue to increase over the next five years, and by fiscal year 2022 an average residential assessment would be $89.21 and a commercial assessment would range between $1,000-$1,250.

Kalispell City Manager Doug Russell said the rising assessments are in response to new permit requirements for the city’s discharge levels. The permit, issued through the state of Montana, holds cities to heightened standards in terms of stormwater and sewer discharges to protect water quality and reduce pollutants through Kalispell’s system.

“They’re requiring a lot more in terms of us being able to achieve standards we’re able to hit,” Russell said.

The rate increases will fund the city’s monitoring program, which would include adding 1.5 full-time equivalent employee to its staff of 6.2 FTEs. The rate increases would also help the city address capital projects in the stormwater system, Russell said.

Kalispell is also proposing to increase its urban forestry district assessments, which fund the city’s maintenance of trees.

An average residential assessment would increase from roughly $15 a year to nearly $42 with a cap. The average commercial assessment would increase from roughly $53 to $146.

Russell said the rate increases are in response to the rampant Dutch elm disease that has swept across the city and wiped out a large number of trees. City crews have spent the last few years addressing the disease, which requires large trees to be entirely removed in residential neighborhoods, and as a result routine maintenance has been deferred, Russell said.

“The (city) council has been reviewing how to get caught up with high priority pruning out there that have been backlogged and get on a routine maintenance schedule,” Russell said.

A public hearing was held Aug. 7. Public comment is still being received on the proposals. The city council is slated to take action on the latest annual budget at its Aug. 21 meeting.

To view the budget, visit kalispell.com.

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