County sets hearing on septic system fee

Flat charge of $21 would replace current pay structure

By Marissa Harshman, Columbian health reporter

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County residents will have the chance this week to voice opinions on a county proposal to implement a $21 flat fee for all landowners with septic systems.

The Clark County Board of Health will hold a public hearing Wednesday to receive feedback on proposed changes to environmental public health fees. Among the proposed changes: eliminating county inspection and tipping fees and imposing a $21 flat fee onto property taxes of all landowners with septic systems.

The public hearing is at 9 a.m. Wednesday on the sixth floor of the Public Service Center, 1300 Franklin St.

The Clark County commissioners, in their role as the board of health, first discussed the proposal at their July meeting. They were set to vote on a proposal to increase tipping and inspection fees, but during the meeting, public health staff provided the commissioners with the proposal to eliminate the two fees and replace them with a $21 flat fee.

Revenue from septic fees go to the county’s operations and maintenance program. In addition to supporting the annual inspections, the program offers advice and guidance to residents who need to repair their systems, said John Wiesman, Clark County public health director.

Tipping fees are charged based on the amount of liquid pumped from a septic system. Systems are typically pumped every three to five years.

Electronic reporting fees are charged every time an inspection is completed. Depending on the type of septic system, inspections are required every one, two or three years.

The county asks for voluntary compliance with the inspection schedule. The compliance rate is usually about 60 percent, Wiesman said.

The new proposal would cost all septic system owners $21 a year, spreading the cost of the program to everyone and not just those complying with inspection and tipping requirements.

The $21 fee, like the current fee structure, would not cover the cost of the actual inspection or tipping. Septic system owners would still be responsible for paying those costs to the company hired to perform the work.

Marissa Harshman: http://twitter.com/col_health; http://facebook.com/reporterharshman; marissa.harshman@columbian.com; 360-735-4546.