Need to repair surface water system likely to dominate biennial budget process

Immediate need for $1 million in repairs will boost fees, could raise taxes
By Dan Aznoff | Sep 20, 2018
Courtesy of: City of Mill Creek A closed circuit television image illustrated the condition of portions of the underground drainage system under parts of Mill Creek that are in immediate need of repair. City officials estimated the total cost to repair the 20 most severe failures could be as much as $1 million.

A lengthy presentation to the City Council from an Everett consulting firm hired to review hours of underground video of Mill Creek’s storm water system provided a preview into the extensive budget process that will dominate the council agenda until the end of the year.

The Perteet firm reviewed 48 hours of closed circuit television images taken over six years of 282 of the larger pipes buried under the city. The inspection revealed 20 runs in immediate need of repair to prevent the collapse of the ground under roadways and homes.

The firm estimated total cost of repairing those segments at about $1 million, according to Gina Hortillosa, the director of Public Works and Development Services for the city of Mill Creek.

According to one estimate, the critical repairs could double or triple the $78 fee homeowners paid this year toward the surface water system.  One councilmember admitted the unexpected price tag could result in higher taxes.

The need for immediate repair was limited to portions of the pipeline with severe structural damage where soil is exposed to underground water, which creates a threat to private property and access for police, fire and schools. Hortillosa said the list also includes failures that pose threats to collector or arterial roadways.

The prioritized repairs were bundled to be included as part of the Capitol Improvements portion of the upcoming budget. The upgrades and repairs, according to Hortillosa, are part of the natural aging of the city’s infrastructure.

The inspection by Perteet broke the work on the underground storm water system into three segments. The most immediate needs were grouped so they could be corrected within the next 12 months. Repairs that were not considered severe were grouped so they can be addressed over the next 10 years, according to Daryl Smith of Perteet.

Capitol improvements are major expenditures that require public funds above and beyond routine operating costs, according to a statement released by the city.

“The CIP development is a financially constrained process,” Hortillosa said. “Only projects that have secured funding will be programmed in the CIP.

The city has been soliciting input from residents through public forums including board and commission meetings, said Joni Kirk, director of communications and marketing.

An overview of the Capitol Improvement Plan is available online at A draft of the CIP for 2019-2024 will be posted when it becomes available. Input can be submitted online at

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