WENATCHEE — Chelan County commissioners Oct. 29 will discuss a proposal to impose a new tax on all county residents to raise some $605,000 annually for flood-control projects, such as water-retention ponds in No. 1 and No. 2 canyons.
State law allows the commission to create a flood-control district with taxing authority, without first putting it to voters, Commissioner Keith Goehner said. The county is considering a tax of 7 cents for each $1,000 of assessed property value.
A tax of that size would create enough cash to cover the average $200,000 to $300,000 the county spends on flood control annually and create a fund for future projects, including catch basins in area canyons to retain floodwater for more gradual release into county and city storm-water systems.
The county is in the process of buying land near the top of No. 1 Canyon road for such a project, but Jason Detamore, manager of the county’s storm water program, said several more catch basins would be necessary to avoid damage to area property from heavy rain storms.
Many homeowners who live in and below Wenatchee canyons have seen layers of muck and debris deposited in their homes and yards twice this summer and in recent years following heavy rains the overwhelm city stormwater systems.
Catastrophic flooding that threatened property and lives also followed last summer’s wildfires in the Colockum and Tarpiscan areas, south of Wenatchee.
Funding for flood-control projects currently comes from the county’s public works budget, Goehner said. County residents who don’t live in flood-prone areas could see the quality of their roads deteriorate if the county has to use these funds to pay for flood control.
Commissioners hosted a flood-control district workshop earlier this month, but only four people attended, Goehner said.
The Oct. 29 hearing is in the commission chamber at 400 Douglas St., Wenatchee. Commissioners will discuss their intention to create a district and continue to collect public opinion.
That hearing could then launch a series of public-outreach efforts that could result in a flood-control district by October 2014, Goehner said.