Utility Shutoffs Suspended Due to Governor’s Action

Utility Shutoffs Suspended Due to Governor’s Action

In July, the City announced that they were providing increased flexibility for utility customers as shutoffs resumed for the June 30th billing cycle (set to take place on August 19th). Yesterday, Governor Inslee extended a moratorium on utility shutoffs. The City will comply with the Governor’s order and will not proceed with utility shutoffs for the June 30th cycle.

The City strongly encourages utility customers to pay all or some of their utility bill to avoid accumulating a large balance. For utility customers impacted by the pandemic in need of assistance, the Ferndale Community Service Cooperative has established a fund to help with utility bills. For more information on this program, visit their website here: http://ferndalecsc.org/.

Shutoffs for Utility Billing Suspended, Resources Available

Usually this week is when our team would be out doing utility shutoffs due to nonpayment. However, in light of COVID-19, we have suspended late payments and shutoffs for the Feb. 28th and April 30th bills. Making a payment today, even a partial payment, can ensure that the bill does not become unmanageable as we gradually return to normal operations.

If you need financial assistance with your utility bill, the Ferndale Community Service Cooperative​ has set up a fund to help residents. More details are available here: http://ferndalecsc.org/

City Shares Newsletter on Water System

After the recent billing irregularities, there was a clear need for the City to follow up with more communication with our utility customers. To that end, utility customers received this “ALL WATER” mailer pictured above recently.

Usually utility mailers are inserted into a billing but the City felt it necessary to put it in the public’s hands as soon as possible so it has arrived on its own. The next utility billing is not until June 30th.

To read this utility mailer, please click the link here.

Dept. of Revenue and Ferndale Streamline Business Applications

This June, the City of Ferndale will be partnering with the Washington State Department of Revenue (DOR) to streamline our business license process. Resident and non-resident general business licenses will apply directly with the DOR allowing applicants to easily apply for licenses in multiple cities.

The city will still review individual business licenses for compliance with city code and regulations and retain the license fees but the application process will be handled by the DOR.

Co-located/space rental business licenses, manufacturing and industrial business licenses are not part of this transition and will still be handled by the City.

As this transition occurs, the City will not be accepting new applications after June 12, 2020 for general business licenses.

Following this transition, all applications will be applied for and reviewed through the Department of Revenue beginning June 25, 2020 with the exceptions that were stated above.

If you have any questions, please contact the Finance Department at (360) 685-2386. For details on the Business License portal with the Department of Revenue, access their website here.

April Utility Bill Includes an Adjustment for Calculation Error

The city regrets to inform the public that there was a calculation error in the last billing cycle (Feb. 28th) that affected approximately 2,500 residential customers. It did not apply the correct average to the sewer charge which resulted in some bills being higher and some bills being lower in the Feb. 28th billing cycle. To fix that, this cycle’s bill includes an adjustment, either a credit or an additional charge, to fix that mistake.

But the bigger mistake was not including an explanation in the bills of this adjustment. That is on us, the City, and we apologize. The last couple of months have been hectic but that is no excuse, the public deserves the best from their local government and again, we apologize for not communicating about this adjustment.

Beyond that, bills are slightly higher than last year. The City conducted a rate study all last year to rebalance our utility bills and secure funding for our needed utility projects (the new deep well head and expanding the wastewater and water treatment plants). More information about that process is available here. As a result, the average household bill increased by approximately $30 per cycle. If a customer uses more than the average household’s worth of water, it may have been a higher increase.

It is worth remembering that with so many residents staying home this last cycle, usage may be up slightly.

That said, obviously, if residents have questions about their specific bill or think we made an error, please don’t hesitate to call our utility clerk, Jeanna, at 360-384-4269 or utilitybilling@cityofferndale.org. We can take a look at your specific case and see if it all adds up.

Finally, we understand that this is a difficult time with so many Ferndale residents being unable to work due to COVID-19. As a result, we have suspended shutoffs and late fees for the Feb and April billing cycles. We encourage folks who have not been impacted to continue to keep up with their bill but for those who have, please take the time needed.

Thank you.

Ferndale Receives Clean Audit for 15th Year Running

Ferndale Receives Clean Audit for 15th Year Running

Each year, the Washington State Auditor takes a close look at the City finances, and once again, the City of Ferndale received a clean bill of financial health. The audit looked at the City’s financial statements for 2018, reviewed compliance with state law and best practices and gave the City top marks.

“The City has shown great integrity with their openness with the audit team and implementation of prior audit recommendations,” said Kelly Collins, Director of Local Audit with the State Auditor’s office.

“We take our responsibilities to the public very seriously and track every penny that crosses our door,” said Ferndale Finance Director Sirke Salminen. “Beyond that, we open up our books to the public. Anyone who is interested can check out our website and explore the City budget on a monthly basis so you can see how your tax dollars are working for you.”

The full audit is accessible on the Washington State Auditor’s website or the City of Ferndale website on the Finance Department page.

City Weighs Options for More Equitable Utility Rate Structure

City Weighs Options for More Equitable Utility Rate Structure

Click the picture above to access more information on the rate study

On Monday, Oct. 7th at 6pm in the City Annex (5694 Second Avenue), the City Council will be reviewing options for adjusting the utility rates.

Earlier this year, the City hired FCS Group to study our rate structure and provide recommendations on how to fund future capital projects while maintaining a fair structure for all ratepayers. This meeting, they will be presenting their findings and the options available to the council going forward.

The public is encouraged to attend and share their input on the best way to provide for the future of our utility system. More information about the rate study, including their presentation on revenue requirements in August and the materials for their presentation on Monday, is available on the city website here: www.cityofferndale.org/ratestudy

Finance Workshop Monday, Aug. 5th at 5:30pm in City Annex

Curious about the city finances? City Finance Director Sirke Salminen will be hosting a series of finance workshops before city council meetings. The next one is Aug. 5th, at 5:30pm at the City Annex (5694 Second Avenue). These meetings will be open to the public and intended to help everyone better understand how your city manages public funds.

This workshop will focus on the separate funds that make up the city budget.

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