Break on surface water fee means less money for environment

The Snohomish County Council voted to nix an annual fee increase that funds preservation work.

EVERETT— Ratepayers in unincorporated Snohomish County will get a break from one fee increase next year — but at the cost of funding for some environmental programs.

The Snohomish County Council last month voted 3-2 to nix a 2.8% annual inflationary adjustment attached to Surface Water Management utility fees. Councilmember Stephanie Wright proposed the change to give ratepayers a “one-year vacation” as many struggle financially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The increase would have funded environmental programs to protect salmon and marine habitat and work to reduce flood damage.

The fee “not only directly funds habitat projects, but it also pays for monitoring salmon recovery, water quality, and shellfish protection and restoration progress in Snohomish County,” the Tulalip Tribes wrote in a statement provided to the council.

Getting rid of the annual inflationary increase will mean losing over $600,000 in revenue for surface water’s environmental programs in the first year, according to the tribes. If the yearly adjustment is not re-instituted, it could amount to a loss of over $13 million over six years.

Councilmember Jared Mead voted against removing the increase, saying surface water projects are a huge part of the county’s work to address an environmental crisis.

“If we remove this funding and decrease this revenue, then it’s going to impact projects farther down the line as well as this year,” said Councilmember Megan Dunn, who also voted against the measure.

Wright said she hopes to bring the annual increase back next year after reassessing the county’s financial status.

“Our seniors and others are really struggling right now with tax increases,” Councilmember Sam Low said. “It is important that we offer relief, and I think this is a great year to offer relief.”

Julia-Grace Sanders: 425-339-3439;; Twitter: @sanders_julia.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Arif Ghouseat flips through his work binder in his office conference room Paine Field on Monday, Dec. 10, 2018 in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Paine Field Airport director departing for Sea-Tac job

Arif Ghouse, who oversaw the launch of commercial air travel at Paine Field, is leaving after eight years.

NO CAPTION. Logo to accompany news of education.
Public school enrollment still down, even as rural districts grow

Smaller districts in Snohomish County seem to be recovering more quickly — and gaining students — than their urban counterparts.

Josiah Degenstein
Lake Stevens man with alleged white supremacist ties faces gun charges

Storage units belonging to Josiah Degenstein contained multiple arsenals, according to police.

Maricel Samaniego, center, teaches English to Liedith Espana, left, and Nemecio Rios, right, at Liberty Elementary School in Marysville, Washington, on Monday, Jan. 30, 2023. Marysville schools partner with Everett Community College to offer free English classes to parents of multilingual students. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Free English class helps Marysville parents lower language barrier

The school district partners with EvCC to teach practical classes on pronunciation, paperwork and parent-teacher conferences.

Firefighters works through rescue drills during the Snohomish Regional Fire & Rescue’s annual Water Rescue Academy on the Skykomish River Thursday afternoon in Index, Washington on May 5, 2022. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Snohomish Regional Fire asks voters for two more commissioners

The district currently has seven commissioners, but it can keep only five. A Feb. 14 special election could change that.

Photo by David Welton
A federal grant will help pay for the cost of adding a charging station to the Clinton ferry terminal.
Federal money to help electrify Clinton ferry dock

The Federal Transit Administration awarded state ferries a $4.9 million grant to help electrify the Mukilteo-Clinton route.

News logo for use with stories about coronavirus COVID-19 COVID
5 things to watch in Snohomish County as COVID public emergency ends

Snohomish County health care leaders shared what they’re concerned about when the federal emergency expires May 11.

Angelica Montanari and daughter Makena, 1, outside of the Community Health Center of Snohomish County Everett-Central Clinic on Thursday, Feb. 2, 2023. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Amid patient woes, CHC of Snohomish County staffers push for a union

Doctors and nurse practitioners are worried about providers being shut out from clinical decisions, which hurts patient care.

Students make their way after school at Edmonds-Woodway High School on March 12, 2020. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
After Edmonds schools internet outage, staff ‘teaching like it’s the 1900s’

“Suspicious activities” on the district’s network delayed classes and caused schedule havoc. “Kids are using pencil and paper again.”

Most Read