Understanding Your Drainage Bill FAQ
Where is my drainage bill? Why is it not on my utility bill?
Drainage fees do not appear on your utility bill. The City uses King County as its billing agent for the drainage fee. The drainage fee is shown on King County property tax statements as SWM (Surface Water Management) or Drainage. After February 15, you can view your drainage fee by entering your property tax ID in the King County Property Tax Information System. Since property owners often pay their property tax through their mortgage company, many owners may not know that they pay the City for drainage services. Drainage charges are assessed on an annual basis.
Where do I find the Property Tax Account number on my property tax statement?
The property tax account number is in the upper left corner of your King County Real Estate Tax Statement. Also, you can call the King County Assessor's office at (206) 296-7300 and they will give it to you.
Who must pay a drainage fee in Seattle? Who is exempt?
The City charges a drainage fee on most properties in the City, including those which are exempt from paying property tax such as churches. Seattle's drainage system is a City-wide utility. All properties contribute to the problem of runoff and benefit from the drainage system through flood control and improvement of water quality. The only properties which are exempt from drainage charges are submerged land, houseboats, piers, City streets, State of Washington highways, and other streets that provide drainage services in the same manner as City streets.
How did you determine which land is submerged?
Submerged land was identified using Geographic Information System data developed to describe the interface between land and water.
My property is partially submerged. Am I still required to pay a drainage fee?
Yes. However, your fee will be calculated on the unsubmerged portion of the property.
Who is responsible for paying the fee?
The property owner of record (per King County Assessor records) is responsible for paying drainage charges. The bill will be included on the property tax statement and sent to the person to whom the property tax statement goes. For example, a shopping center with six separate businesses and only one property owner will receive one bill for drainage on the property owner's property tax statement.
I own a condominium. Is the drainage bill sent to me or to the Condo Association? How is my portion of the fee of the condominium complex calculated?
Condominium complex bills will be divided equally among the building units and are sent separately to the individual condominium unit owners listed on the King County Assessor's Real Property File. For example, if there are 10 units in a condominium complex, each unit will receive a bill for one-tenth of the total complex bill.
How is my drainage bill calculated?
The method for calculating your bill depends on the type of property you own.
- Single family and duplex properties smaller than 10,000 square feet are assigned to drainage rate categories based on the size of the parcel. All properties in a given rate category pay the same flat rate. This rate is also equal to the total bill, or charge. For example, parcels between 3,000 and 4,999 square feet will be subject to an annual drainage charge of $173.10 in 2011, while parcels between 5,000 and 6,999 square feet will all be subject to an annual drainage charge of $234.94 in the same year. View the rate schedule for small residential/duplex property rates.
- All other properties, including single family/duplex properties 10,000 square feet and larger, are assigned to rate categories based on how much impervious surface is contained on the parcel. Each rate category is assigned a rate which is multiplied by the parcel area (in 1,000s of square feet) to calculate the total charge, or bill. For example: If the total area of Property A is 15,000 sq. ft. and it contains 13,000 sq. feet of impervious surface (a building with a 7,000 sq. ft. footprint, and a 6,000 sq. ft. parking lot). this parcel would be considered 87% impervious (13,000 sq. ft./15,000 sq. ft.) and assigned to the Very Heavy (86-100% impervious) rate category. The 2011 annual rate for this category is $66.90 per 1,000 sq. ft. To calculate the bill we must first convert the parcel area to 1,000 sq. feet (15,000 sq ft./1,000=15). We then multiply 15 by the unit rate of $66.90 to arrive at an annual drainage bill, or charge of $1,003.35.
For more information on the basis of the drainage rate structure read the Drainage Rate Structure FAQ.
How did you determine the percent of impervious surface area on my property?
An analysis of aerial photo data was completed in 2007 to establish drainage billing surface type data for all property without a single family or duplex structure. This was translated into a range of percent of impervious area or rate category.
What happens if I don't pay my drainage fee?
Delinquency charges will be applied for delinquent drainage fees. If the drainage fee is not paid, a lien may be attached to the property.
Is the drainage fee deductible on my federal income tax?
No. This charge is a utility fee like water, sewer, or garbage charges.
Is there an adjustment for low-income, elderly, or handicapped people?
Yes. If you qualify for an adjustment on your sewer bill, you will automatically receive an additional adjustment for drainage on your combined utility bill. The adjustment will not be shown on your drainage bill.
I own more than one piece of property. Will all charges be consolidated or will I get multiple bills?
The drainage charges will appear on each of your property tax statements. Thus, the drainage charges will be billed in the same manner as your property taxes.
I own a rental property. Will I still be billed if it is vacant and all utilities are shut off?
Yes. The property contributes runoff and benefits from the drainage system whether or not anyone is living on the property.
Can I pay my drainage fee at the Community Service Centers?
No. The drainage charges are included on your property tax statement and must be paid with the property taxes.
Can I pay my drainage fee in two halves, just as with my property taxes?
Yes. The drainage charges can be paid in two halves just like the property taxes.
Why are the current commercial/large residential drainage rates on a per-1,000 square feet basis while the 2007 rates were on a per-acre basis?
In the past, King County property tax records were converted to acres to match the drainage rate structure. Basing charges on units of 1,000 square feet eliminates the need for this conversion and allows for more precision in the calculation of drainage rates.
Will properties with on-site detentions systems be billed?
Yes, but they may qualify for a credit. In 2009, a new Stormwater Facility Credit program for properties with stormwater facilities was implemented. View the Stormwater Facility Credit for more information.
My property was sold after I paid my drainage fee. How do I get a refund for part of the year?
Since the drainage fee is included in the property tax bill, if a property is sold in the middle of the year any portion of the unused drainage fee is included in the escrow settlement process.
What number can I call if I still have questions?
(206) 684-3000, Monday – Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.