Oak Harbor raises storm drainage rates to cover bones mishap

Oak Harbor ratepayers will start paying more for one utility to cover a portion of the cost of unearthing a Native American burial ground under Pioneer Way in 2011.

The city council adopted a temporary increase in storm drain rates last week.

Finance Director Doug Merriman said ratepayers will see a $2.20 increase in the monthly storm drain fees in their March bill. The increase will last for three years and then sunset.

So far, it has cost the city $3.4 million to deal with the mistake.

The archaeological work is completed; the city hired experts to sift through 6,500 yards of dirt in piles throughout the city to find human remains and artifacts.

There are a few lawsuits associated with the project ongoing.

And reburial costs could be significant.

Nevertheless, Merriman allocated the known costs across the utilities associated with the project.

He said the water and sewer funds had enough fund balance that an increase isn’t currently necessary.

A total of 31 percent of the costs, or $787,000, was allocated to the storm drain fund.


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