Fayette stormwater ‘fee’ coming

May cost residents of unincorporated areas average of $70

Call it a fee, not a tax, but look out, unincorporated Fayette residents — a new bill is likely headed your way.

With the blessing of the Fayette County Commission, county staff is preparing to implement a new stormwater utility that would be funded by an annual fee

charged to all property owners in the unincorporated county. The final proposal, however, must be approved by a majority of the commission to be officially implemented.

The matter is expected to come up for a vote later this year.

To reach the county’s stormwater goals will involve a fee that costs the average homeowner about $70 a year, with some paying less and some paying more. The fee is based on the square footage of impervious surface on a given lot, which means not just the footprint of the house, but also the driveway, the garage and any other ancillary structures such as a barn or shed.

The fee is already a matter of debate, as County Commissioner Lee Hearn said the $70 figure is too high for what he’s comfortable doing.

“It had better be in line with what our surrounding counties are doing,” Hearn said, adding that he wanted to make sure the utility has an impact.

“I will tell you this, there is certainly not a shortage of projects that money can be spent on,” replied County Manager Jack Krakeel.

By comparison, most residential bills in Peachtree City are between $36 and $72 a year, also depending on the amount of impervious surface on the lot.

Part of the problem with funding stormwater operations out of the general fund is the argument that taxpayers in Fayetteville and Peachtree City would also be footing the bill for work that will be done exclusively in the unincorporated areas, said County Manager Jack Krakeel.

Both Fayetteville and Peachtree City have their own stormwater utility programs, and both assess fees to all property owners within their city limits. So in that respect, city residents could argue they were being “double taxed” for the same service.

The upside of a stormwater fee is that it can be assessed on entities that are immune to property taxes, such as churches and schools, which have significant impervious surface footprints, officials said.

Currently the county spends about $437,000 a year on stormwater improvement projects from the general fund. But that has resulted in a backlog of projects, officials have said.

The stormwater fee, if eventually approved by the county commission, would go beyond infrastructure repair and replacement by adding a maintenance capability with a projected three-person crew.

The total estimated annual cost of such a program is $1.4 million, which would be raised by the bills costing an average of $70 per residence.

Lowering that figure to $60 a year will only bring in $1.22 million, and at $50 a year it would bring in $1.02 million, according to county calculations.

Vanessa Birrell, director of the county’s current stormwater program, said about 30 percent of the existing stormwater pipes have been inspected, which leaves a big question mark.

“The problem is we don’t have an entire inventory, so we don’t know every rusted-out pipe,” she said.

So far, staff has compiled a list of $1.08 million in necessary stormwater projects, with four of them being the most critical at a cost of $630,000.

The highest priority project is Merrydale Drive, as the stormpipe under the road gets closer to the point of causing the roadbed to collapse. Other top-priority projects include Kirkley Road, Emerald Lake Drive and Morning Dove Drive.

The pipe on Merrydale Drive is in such poor shape that it must be checked after each rainfall event, Birrell said.

wedrod
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BHH No need

The county does not need to come on your property BHH. You may be surprised to know that the county has spent thousands getting an engineering firm to calculate your surface from aerial photography.

BHH
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wedrod, I'm not surprised but hadn't thought of that.

Their aerial photos are several years old at any given time, so they will have to tax us just to update and maintain those too.

BHH
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Local governments have no choice but to comply with EPA

rules requiring this.

Our commissioners have no power to stop this even if they are against it.

If you think they can you are barking up the wrong tree.

As long as we fight with them the feds continue to do as they please.

A long standing republican control of federal government is what we need to correct the problems created over the last 30 years by democrats.

Some things may need to be controlled but the EPA and other federal branches need to be castrated.

roundabout
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BHH

OK we will do away with what you don't like if I can have what I like!

No poisoned food, no polluted water, medical care, and jail for bankers and investment traders!

BHH
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roundy, go ahead and start collecting your exhaled and other

expelled gases so it doesn't pollute the atmosphere any longer.

If the EPA gets their way we will all eventually be wearing filter masks. Not to protect us from the things we might inhale but to protect the air from what we exhale.

It's not their job to protect you from anything.

They are hell bent on protecting everything from you.

BHH
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Funding repairs is just a smoke screen.

This is not about treating storm water or funding repairs. It's a plan to fund and empower the EPA with a network of local enforcement of their rules governing what you are allowed to do and not do on your own property.

This is similar to a land grab in that it seeks control over private property and infringes on our right to the pursuit of life and liberty.

The EPA contends also that the very carbon dioxide humans exhale is a threat to the environment.

This branch of our government is out of control and needs to be dealt with immediately and dramatically.

BHH
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Currently the courts are our only defense against EPA

control of everything we do.

http://baconsrebellion.com/2011/01/05/inside-epas-pollution-diet/

[PDF]
Katrina's Lament: Reconstructing Federalism

BHH
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Feds want municipal control of all water anywhere

And that is what's behind all this.

It won't be stopped at the local level. The feds are mandating the locals to assume control of all water.

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/dec/10/leave-our-fish-ponds-alone/

http://www.northwestlandmatters.com/environmental/new-draft-rapanos-guid...

cogitoergofay
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Stormwater: BHH Thank you

Thank you for the link on Stormwater. I will have to admit that I was unaware of the Rapanos decision. Locals have already been under a mandate to regulate local stormwater. President Reagan signed it in to law in 1990. It is not just Dems that are passing the clean air and clean water act. Every single President since Richard Nixon has done so. Only now, the sky would be the limit with President Obama. Thank you for taking the time with all the links.

wedrod
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President Reagan 1990?

I thought Bush was President on 1990/

BHH
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The department heads don't come to the commissioners

and say we will be needing a certain percentage of all property values for the next year.

They come with dollar figures.

If they had to stand on the street corners and collect it in a boot every year then they would do things a lot more conservatively.

BHH
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This stupidity begins at the federal level with the EPA.

Ridding ourselves of the EPA would be a great blessing.

Many cities may need a new system to deal with deteriorating infrastructure but this is not needed for Fayette county.

AtHomeGym
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BHH & Stupidity

Totally agree, but we don't have to magnify it at our local level. And Yes, the EPA is indeed a dangerous regulating authority and a threat to freedom of all citizens. Between the "Gang of 3" commissioners and J. Krakeel, FC taxpayers don't have much of a chance. Voters will have a chance to fix part of that not too far down the road.

BHH
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I know AtHome

But unless we can get some kind of law that requires politicians to search for ways to reduce taxes on all levels instead of seeking new sources of "revenue" and ways to take advantage of state and federal funds unjustifiably, we are not doing any good at the local levels.

Everyone who takes office begins to assume that they are there just to get more and more funds from where ever possible.

If we could only require them all to work within a dollar limit instead of giving them the percentages of everything that has become the custom and spoiled the entire system of government in this county.

They should never be allowed to start user fees for anything that has already been receiving funds from other taxes without a comparable reduction of those taxes.

No government entity should ever be allowed to create any tax or fee based on a percentage of anything.

All taxes should be approved based on the expected number of funds needed for the services under consideration.

The costs of everything fluctuates and so should our taxes. They should go up and down according to costs of needed services.

AtHomeGym
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Stormwater Runoff Fee

I have lived in the same house (on acreage) in unincorporated FC for 25 yrs and have never had nor seen any problem with stormwater runoff. The new fee will be an answer to a question not worthy of asking. And you wonder where the TEA Party came from--it came from stupid decisions like this.

30YearResident
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It's Still A Tax !!

When the government sends you a bill, it's a tax... pure and simple.
As "Streetcleaner", we live on acreage and from the sound of this new 'Tax' the county is trying to impose on us, it's going to be homeowners like us to are going to be "taxed" the most.
It's time the county manager started reducing overhead in the county, not looking for additional ways to spend our tax monies.
I'm sure there are efficiencies that could be considered.

pips1414
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Littleoleme, Some Commissioners Don't Have To Worry

about jobs. Some of our commissioners have two or three jobs. So obviously they don't have to worry about putting food on the table or gas in their tanks.

While some of us have to worry because we don't even have a job and some of us have to worry about making a Social Security check or pension check stretch from month to month, one of our commissioners holds a full-time job with another county, has a consulting firm on the side, and collects a pay check as a Fayette County Commissioner.

littleoleme
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If they like being commissioners....

they should re-think this one. Water costs are increasing. People are out of work. Their homes are worth a fraction of what they paid for them which doesn't matter because they can't sell them anyway. They are having to choose between groceries and gas because of high gas prices. Everything is more expensive, especially food. People are not going to stand to be nickeled and dimed more right now.

ginga1414
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Jack Smith's Culverts and Lee Hearn's Baby

Surely those rusted-out culverts didn't get that way overnight.

Why weren't those things fixed when Jack Smith was in office?

So, now we have to pay a utility for what falls out of the sky?

What about all this new impervious ROAD surface that will come about when they build the road to nowhere that no one wants? That little piece of pavement will run right through a "significant groundwater recharge area," which clearly appears in the Fayette County Comprehensive Plan 2004-2025.

Who is going to be taxed for all that impervious surface?

I have an idea! I think Lee Hearn should have to pay the stormwater fee for the West Fayetteville Bypass. After all, it is HIS BABY!

AtHomeGym
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Stormwater & needed fixes

So just who says all these fixes are needed and what qualifications do they have? And why are they (whoever they are) doing this evaluation? Why is there not some county Department charged with this task on a semi-annual or annual basis? Are these questions "too hard" to answer?

roundabout
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GYM

Let me put it this way? The work should have been done a Little at a time for many years within the budget. It was not as it was always one of the cuts in order to do other things.

As to the need for erosion control and pollution and downstream problems, we don't learn much from history!
I was in Ephesus where Saint Paul preached, according to the Bible, a few years back and that used to be a wonderful sea port with much commerce.

One now can not even see the ocean from the old abandoned city! Why?
Extreme erosion into the bay and filth contamination!
Those dudes weren't very sanitary!

About the only half complete things left is the library whose public toilets ran directly into the ship docks, and the attached House of prostitution.

The Greek or Turkish sign in stone outside says: "no money, no honey!"

AtHomeGym
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roundup & position

I think you're still in Ephesus. Your reply also means you don't know the answer to my questions either--no great surprise there.

roundabout
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GYM

There are no answers for you no matter what.

You want no taxes and you want no maintenance of our standard of living if it requires money or regulations!

I gave you the answer.

These things weren't done for years by developers or the City and that is why the feds had to finally say, fix it!

If people like you wouldn't complain so much when things need to be done early special taxes wouldn't be needed to fix them.

It is like th Fayetteville bypasses. If they were put off until they had to be built in a hurry in say 10 years, they would cost twice as much!

Ask your PE, he would know that.

streetcleaner
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Stormwater fee

As a unincorporated county resident, with no county water or sewer service, livng in a home on acreage, I find it troublesome to recieve a fee based on general information. Are not our planning, zoning and permit departments required to insure that stormwater drainage is done correctly when the infrastructure is installed. Why am I being asked to pay for issues that I am not the cause. If there are stormwater problems, those who incorrectly designed, developed or implemented the infrastructure should pay or if a goverment agency is responsible, elected officials and department heads should be held accountable.

bladderq
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Of Taxes & Fees & Repugs

This is a growing trend since at least the last NEWTster gov't shut down. Don't raise taxes, shift it to the ones who use such a thang as a fee. You know those tree huggars in the national parks. Those cultural snobs that go to a play, concert or muzeeum. "AHHhh, Look, I am anti-tax. Vote for me & I will set you free!" You know 1 difference between a tax & a fee? You deduct your taxes. The most egregious of the county commission's action is to cover up years and years of infrastructure neglect. As Dennis Chase has pointed out before, "Why is replacing roadbed stormpipe, Stormwater Management? Look at what the PTC Stormater "Utility" has spent money on. Most obvious is the cart path southeast of Booth MS. Welcome to a new Repug World & Order.

Steve Brown
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I cannot support the stormwater utility

However, let me clarify and say the county has some significant stormwater problems to address - that is for real. Unfortunately, there has been no active plan for repair and funding over the years.

Since it appears the county will only handle stormwater infrastructure beneath the roads, it makes no sense to me to create another layer of bureaucracy when all of the projects fall within the purview of current department handling roads.

Just like when City of Atlanta let the sewer maintenance go, we are going to have to pay the bills as the stormwater infrastructure crumbles past life expectancy. I do not thing the utility is the way to handle it.

It is really too bad the county did not take care of some issues when they resurfaced the roads. It would have been more efficient.

Mike King
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We Agree Steve....

...But now tell me how best to address the problem. We both know that option #1 is to ignore it hoping it will go away, but since the cat is out of the bag that option isn't viable.

Holding folks accountable for the past five decades simply won't fix anything, although you are likely to garner some attention by grandstanding about previous office holders.

How about setting aside a percentage of property taxes annually to make repairs as prioritized by your county administrator? Since both Peachtree City and Fayetteville take care of their own stormwater issues, this problem is not insurmountable, but it will be more expensive the longer the Commission fails to act.

Try reasoning with your fellow commissioners this time.

BHH
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Maintain that attitude Steve.

There are taxes in place from which this kind of thing is appropriate to be funded.

No need for double taxation to pay for things we are already being taxed for. With a little planning and creativity this could easily be funded from road taxes already collected from gasoline sales and other sources.

The "user fee" mentality began with the first George Bush and his "thousand points of light". It's been on a roll ever since.

It's none of the counties business how much roof or paved area I have in the first place. And I don't want anyone on my place taking measurements.

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