Fee to fund stormwater issues proposed
by JOYANNA LOVE Banner Senior Staff Writer
Apr 29, 2014 | 797 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A stormwater fee has been proposed to the Cleveland City Council as a way to fund a stormwater study and keep in compliance with state stormwater regulations.

The fee would be used to hire a consultant to determine the impervious surface area of Cleveland Utilities sewer customers within the city limits.

City Manager Janice Casteel said any additional funds from the fee would be used to solve stormwater issues in the city.

The fee will not be charged for sewer customers outside the city.

“State law does not allow for you to charge a stormwater fee outside your corporate boundaries,” Casteel said.

Information on the impervious (meaning water cannot run through it, such as a building or a driveway) surfaces for each property will be used to determine a rate base in the future.

A rate of $1 a month for residential 5/8-inch meters is being proposed. The rate has an incremental increase corresponding to the meter size. There are nine meter sizes in Bradley County. An industrial 8-inch meter customer would pay $17.55 a month.

Cleveland Utilities president Ken Webb said the fee could be included on customer bills.

“This is just to get the study done to determine what the fee should be,” Casteel said.

If passed, the fee would be paid by every city sewer customer, including the school system, government buildings, churches and nonprofits, in addition to businesses.

Having the stormwater study will allow the city to apply for grants for future stormwater projects. These grants would require a 35 percent match from the city. The remaining 65 percent would come from federal funding. This match could be paid through the stormwater fee once it is fully implemented.

District 4 David May said the city should take advantage of this opportunity.

Development and engineering director Jonathan Jobe said once the impervious study is done, industries could receive credits for detention ponds and thereby be charged a lesser fee.

“It encourages people to go greener on their design,” Jobe said.

Full implementation would require a change in the stormwater ordinance and hiring a consultant to implement the program.

Jobe said 14 out of 17 cities that have implemented similar programs used consultants when they started. He said two of those that did told him they wished they had.

He said it would take about a year to set up the program. As part of implementing the program an Equivalent Residential Unit would be set based on the average residential impervious area. This unit would then be used to determine the exact fee on each property.

An increase to the street cut permit fee is also being proposed in the budget. The last increase was in 2008.

“That is just to recover the exact cost that Tommy [Myers, public works director] has in the street cut [budget],” Casteel said.

The fee would be increased o $265 per 48 square feet of patch.