Council looking at stormwater fee
by JOYANNA LOVE Banner Senior Staff Writer
Jan 14, 2014 | 869 views | 0 0 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Implementation of a new fee was proposed as a way to fund long-term solutions to frequent flooding in Cleveland.

Director of Cleveland Development and Engineering Jonathan Jobe outlined how a stormwater fee could work during his presentation at the Cleveland City Council’s strategic planning meeting.

How to address frequent flooding will be determined based on a Federal Emergency Management Study and feasibility report from the Army Corps of Engineers expected to be completed in the summer of 2015.

“That report, the Army Corps report, will list several … recommendations [concerning] what project, what buyouts and their cost estimates,” Jobe said. “Then we will be eligible to apply for federal dollars to construct these projects.”

Solutions could include manmade ponds or widening portions of existing streams. Part of the study could list structures that should be demolished to help the issues.

These grants would be shared cost. The federal grant would cover 65 percent of qualifying projects and the city would be required to pay 35 percent.

The recommended projects would probably cost millions of dollars, according to Jobe.

“It (the stormwater fee) would be used to maintain the city’s water quality program. It would also manage our stormwater systems, our pipes, our drainage system, any repairs to our drainage system. And we could use this money to fund the projects that the Army Corps of Engineers would suggest,” Jobe said. “The fee is based on impervious soil. … Many cities are using this to fund their stormwater programs.”

To go to such a format, the stormwater ordinance for the city would have to be changed, then an equivalent residential unit amount would have to be set, and then the actual fee would have to be set, according to Jobe.

The equivalent residential unit is a number that is divided into the impervious surface area to determine units of impervious area. This unit number would then be multiplied by the fee rate to determine the amount owed.

Measures such as retention ponds or catching stormwater would count, as credits would be worked in to lower the fees for those taking these measures, Jobe said.

“The more impervious surfaces that are on a property, the less infiltration of stormwater on a property, the greater the quantity of surface runoff , the more pollutant loading generated by that property and the quicker the surface water runs off that property,” Jobe said.

Impervious surfaces would include structures on the property and most driveways.

“It’s very complicated ... it takes most cities at least a year to set it up,” Jobe said.

During the Cleveland City Council’s voting session Monday, resident Cindy Finnell asked for an update on efforts to fix flooding issues on Bowman and Centenary avenues.

Finnell had initially presented documentation of her yard being flooded during an October 2013 meeting of the Council.

City manager Janice Casteel said she has been in conversation with the one homeowner who is holding up the installation of a pipe in the area that could help relieve the flooding.

Casteel said the property owner has been receptive, but wants to have an engineer look at the design before agreeing to the project.

All other property owners involved have signed on to allow an easement for the project to move forward.

A timeline was not determined as to when the homeowner would make a decision.

“I will definitely give him a call if that’s what you would like,” Public Works Director Tommy Myers told the Council.

Councilman Bill Estes again mentioned that the Council should discuss using eminent domain as an option to completing the project.

Myers said the project would need to start on this property.

Also during the meeting, Councilman George Poe asked Jobe about annexing APD 40.

Jobe said much of it could be annexed but not all of it, or a “doughnut hole” would be created. However, annexations that are not at the request of a property owner are currently on hold due to a statewide moratorium on annexation.

The Council also approved loan agreements for electric and water projects and the issuance of bonds for the projects.

During the city’s strategic planning meeting, Councilman David May asked how revenue from Amazon sales tax, which began this year, would be divided and how much revenue Cleveland would receive.