October 31st, 2019 Issue

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Utility Rate Study

With rising costs and scheduled expansions to the city’s infrastructure, the City
Conducted a rate study this year to determine a more equitable way to fund our utilities. With the help of FCS Group, a specialist in the field, the city examined our utility usage (how much water is used each day), consumer groups (residential,
multi-family, commercial) and fees (flat fee, usage fee, connection fees, impact fees) to find the most equitable way to fund the city’s utility system.

The FCS Group presented their results at council meetings in August and
October, exploring a variety of methods to ensure that our needs are met well into the future. Council was adamant that any cost increases were fairly shared between businesses, new and current customers.

The current proposal looks at a potential increase of $15 per month for the average residential customer in the City of Ferndale, although nothing has been finalized and individual bills vary based on usage. Residents are encouraged to share their thoughts with council via email at citycouncil@cityofferndale.org.

The final proposal will be voted on later this year as part of the 2020 budget. Full proposed utility rate changes and associated research can be found at www.cityofferndale.org/ratestudy.

Phone Scams!

The city regrets to inform you that no, you actually did not win a free cruise or have unclaimed money waiting for you with the IRS. The truth is that phone scams are becoming increasingly more common and sophisticated.

Here are some of the things you can do to stay safe:

  • Don’t send money or give out personal information in response to an unexpected request, even if the caller has some of your information. Don’t believe the Caller ID—you can always hang up and call back the correct number to verify.
  • Don’t pay up front for a promise. A common scam is to ask you to pay for shipping, put down a deposit or any other method to get access to your funds. Just say no or hang up.

For more information on common phone scams, check out https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/scam-alerts.

Only Rain Down the Drain

Just finished cooking your Thanksgiving turkey? It can be tempting to dump the grease down the stormdrain but it is essential that you don’t.

Most stormwater is not treated before it is discharged into waterbodies in Ferndale. Local waters then drain to larger waterbodies, including the Nooksack River to Bellingham Bay, the Lummi River to Lummi Bay, and California Creek to Drayton Harbor.

Beyond that, it is much cheaper to prevent pollutants from getting into the water than to pay for the clean up.

Please help prevent pollution from entering the stormwater system and our local waters. Only rain and snowmelt down the drain.

SNOW SEASON

Long before there is snow in the forecast, it is time to start thinking winter safety. When it comes to driving, that means be prepared and slow down.  The City of Ferndale Public Works Department, which is responsible for city street maintenance, prepares for snow and ice and monitors winter weather conditions around the clock.

With wintery weather on the way, our Public Works crew:

  • Prepares four trucks with plow attachments.
  • Applies de-icing solution to key streets in advance of snow and ice.
  • When appropriate, applies sand and salt to increase traction on roadways.
  • Begins plowing, focused on priority routes (see left) which are cleared 24 hours a day to ensure first responders have access throughout the city.
  • Access to side streets are cleared only after the priority routes are completely plowed.

Here is what residents can and should do:

  • Clear sidewalks next to your property – the City only provides snow and ice control for sidewalks in front of public buildings (the Library, City Hall).
  • Stay home if you don’t need to be out. It’s safer with fewer people on the streets, especially for those not comfortable in snow and ice.
  • Let cold water drip from faucets served by exposed pipes. Running water through the pipe – even at a trickle – helps prevent pipes from freezing.

For more information about snow in Ferndale, call  Ferndale Public Works at (360) 384-4006 or check out www.cityofferndale.org/snow

Downtown Catalyst Projects Move Forward

In April 2019, the City Council passed the Downtown Catalyst Incentive
Program. This unique program is aimed at helping our downtown come alive. Right now, retail businesses struggle downtown and very few people can be found walking around after 5pm or on the weekends. The City is committed to working with local businesses to build a downtown that is full of life,
economic activity and thriving businesses.

The City has tried various incentives or programs over the last decades to
support our downtown businesses, but it has had little impact. It was time for something dramatic.

One key factor that thriving downtowns all share is developments that have businesses on the bottom and housing on top. If people are living within
walking distance of their downtown, they shop, eat, and play in the downtown at all hours.

The Catalyst was developed by our planning commission and Community
Development staff before being discussed, revised and ratified by our
council.

As part of the program, proposals must include a minimum of three stories with at least 15 dwelling units, a minimum of 5,000 square feet and be a new construction project. All residential parking must be provided onsite and downtown design guidelines must be met.

These proposals are then scored and vetted by a special subcommittee of the City Council. Council selected Planning Commissioner Greg Crim, EAGLE Board Member Sean Hegstead and Councilmembers Rebecca Xczar, Greg Hansen and Teresa Taylor for that committee. The committee will forward a recommendation on to the council which can approve zero to three of these
proposals. If approved, the city will then waive one-time permit fees for the downtown project.  For more information on this, including plans for the
proposed projects, check out www.cityofferndale.org/catalyst.

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