Sales tax has no link to stormwater issue

A general officer once criticized a briefing I gave him by saying, “Major Lentz, you’ve been drinking your own bath water.”

In that picturesque tradition, I suggest that the Fayette County Commissioners have been drinking their own stormwater.

The proposal for a stormwater special purpose local option sales tax (S-SPLOST) is about the most incomprehensible and wrong thing to have come out of that body in a long time.

First, we need to define our terms: we’re talking about “stormwater management,” and stormwater management isn’t just about culverts and drain pipes, as the commissioners seem to think (or want us to think).

Stormwater management includes all rainwater runoff that must be properly channeled in order to prevent flooding and to reduce pollution, including chemicals and suspended sediment, in streams and lakes.

Stormwater management is a federal mandate (unfunded, of course). It involves educating people about the potential impact of pet poop on bacterial contamination of the drinking water supply.

It involves keeping debris out of drains by sweeping streets and parking lots.

It involves inspecting industrial sites for pollutants that may wash into the drinking water supply.

It involves much, much more. To describe stormwater management as drain pipes and culverts is facile and misleading.

Second: most of stormwater management calls for controlling runoff from impervious surfaces: in simple terms, roofs, parking lots, cart paths, and streets.

The largest individual contributors to runoff are shopping centers, big box stores, schools, municipalities, and churches. By and large, these entities do not pay sales tax.

An S-SPLOST would put the burden of paying to control their runoff onto the rest of us. Unfairly, in my opinion.

Why? Simply because the amount of money any individual or organization pays in sales taxes does not likely equate to his, her, or its contribution to runoff.

Only a formulation as developed by the Peachtree City stormwater utility (and the Fayette County stormwater utility — until the current administration got hold of it) ... only a formulation based on impervious surfaces is a fair and responsible way to pay for stormwater management.

Third: Peachtree City already collects a stormwater fee based on impervious surfaces. The S-SPLOST would generate (it is estimated) nearly $13 million for Peachtree City. Would the city then eliminate the stormwater fee?

Not in your or my lifetime. Would the city use this money to reduce property taxes? Same answer.

Look for “official” support of this option, which would provide city government an additional $13 million to spend, willy-nilly.

As long as we accept the federal mandate, and as long as we want to reduce the risk of flooding and reduce pollution in our drinking water supply, stormwater management is a legitimate function of local government.

I generally oppose any tax, such as the abortive T-SPLOST or the existing garbage franchise fee in Peachtree City, that is earmarked for a specific government service because it takes that service and money off the table and out of competition with other services when it comes time to balance the budget.

However, earmarking money for stormwater management through a utility and fees based on an individual or organization’s contribution to runoff is a responsible exception.

Fayette County has adopted a stormwater utility. It appears that a few people who weren’t paying attention during its two-year or so incubation process made a lot of noise.

It appears that a few politicians, who weren’t part of the process and who may not understand the issues, have overreacted in the wrong direction to that noise.

We the people must take back our government. As a step in that direction, we must defeat this proposal.

Paul Lentz, curmudgeon

Peachtree City, Ga.

naturegrl
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Joined: 01/19/2012
Sales Tax

Has any taxpayer ever seen a tax eliminated once it was put in place? Stormwater issues-do they go away after two years. Never seen a federal mandate that expired.

allofus
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Storm Water vs Road Repair

Mr Lentz should do a little more research before he writes such an eloquent response to the Fayette County Storm Water issue. The issue involved here is that the previous Commission renamed regular County Road Maintenance as "Storm Water". These County Roads belong to ALL OF THE CITIZENS of Fayette County. And, if you examine the proposed costs of Regular Road Maintenance that were labeled as Storm Water you would find that by an enormous margin, the proposed tax is to cover these costs. Storm Water is a separate issue completely. The OUTRAGE recently reflected in the Community Meetings is that the Citizens in Unincorporated Fayette County were being asked by the previous County Commissioners to pay for all County Road Maintenance for Roads that are OWNED BY ALL COUNTY CITIZENS. It was suggested in these meetings that Storm Water Issues like NPDES Permits etc and the support of true Storm Water Issues be separated from the costs of regular road maintenance. It is true that a County SPLOST will be needed to cover the cost of the County-at-Large Roads. And, truly, Storm Water that is related to ONLY Unincorporated Residents should be paid by them. It is amazing how these separate issues have been so confused by the previous commissioners! Nothing "Fair" about this approach! Unfortunately, the present Commissioners are put is a tough position. --- Roads need Repair, an this is the vast majority on Monies needed. Since these Roads are owned by ALL COUNTY RESIDENTS, the cost needs to be born by ALL COUNTY RESIDENTS and not shifted to only Unincorporated Fayette County Residents. Commissioner Brown, and other Commissioners are simply trying to find a way to Fund these required repairs in a Fair and Equitable way. If Mr. Lentz has a suggestion as to a way to do this, I'm sure that the Commissioners would be excited to hear from him.

Husband and Fat...
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Major Lentz

You are 100% right. The Federal Clean water act is so much more than stormwater. Our county and city governments are not bring honest with us. Hear me Mr. Brown?

Stormwater management starts with the obvious runoff from impervious surfaces (parking lots, ect), that can be easily seen. If any field has any exposed dirt, that land is in violation of the clean water act since any rain storm will cause the soil to be displaced. This is why PTC has to dredge Lake Peachtree every few years.

Anyone with a pet or livestock whose poop is not picked up each day is in violation of the clean water act.
Anywhere you see flooding is a violation.
Anywhere you see remnants of red clay after a rain is in violation
Anytime you see trash or an oil sheen in our storm water system, this is a violation.
Anytime you see a construction site building a retention pond or a grid of underground storm pipes you are seeing the civil engineers design a system to control the stormwater runoff.

Our esteemed leaders need to take a road trip to some of the more progressive counties to see how much better they deal with this issue.

I will not be voting for any splost presented by commission until commission and city council understands the issues and goes about educating the public on everything that must take place. Once this is done and a plan presented, I will gladly pay my fair share.

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