Government

More News | | | Editor

Augusta Commission to discuss stormwater fee

  • Follow Government

Augusta’s rainiest August in 97 years flooded roads, sent untreated sewage into waterways and drove at least 12 families from homes that were heavily damaged.

It also provided a painful reminder of what a new stormwater fee, up for discussion at Monday’s Augusta commission committee meeting, might be able to remedy, although funds from the fee wouldn’t be available until late next year.

The fee, assessed on all property owners regardless of tax-exempt status and based on the water-permeable square footage of each property, could generate up to $10 million a year, according to Engineering Director Abie Ladson, who will present information to commissioners about the fee Monday.

Stormwater management is required by state and federal laws and the funds could be used to complete an inventory of Augusta’s aging – in some cases century-old – system of ditches, culverts, pipes, storm drains, manholes and other infrastructure, Ladson said. “We don’t know where all these are even located,” he said.

From Aug. 1 until Friday, the Augusta Cares hotline received 97 calls related to clogged storm drains and ditches, sinkholes, cave-ins and other storm- and flooding-related issues across the city, according to a report obtained from Augusta Cares Coordinator Martha King.

The calls, which exclude those that might have been made directly to engineering, included eight reports of stormwater runoff causing flooding, seven of stormwater causing erosion, four cave-ins around storm drains, six reports of sinkholes around city infrastructure, 35 reports of clogged or impeded storm drains, 27 clogged ditches and five requests for storm drains to prevent flooding that happened during the period.

Ladson said the sinkholes were often caused by the use of corrugated metal pipe underground, a poor choice of material that hasn’t lasted long.

The fee, if approved, also could be used for construction of regional detention ponds to address flooding issues on a wider scale, acquisition of property located on floodplains and vegetation maintenance, a duty assumed during the 2010 government restructuring that often impacts stormwater maintenance, he said.

“I think what you’re going to see over the next 10 years is a continuing dilemma with our infrastructure,” said City Administrator Fred Russell. “We have pipes that are 50 to 60 years old and older and, as with most governments, the maintenance is somewhat lax.”

Ladson’s presentation is Item 15 on the agenda for Augusta’s Engineering Services committee meeting, which is scheduled to start at 1 p.m. after the continuation from Tuesday of a legal meeting where commissioners will discuss options for Augusta Municipal Golf Course, which shut its doors Wednesday.

Other committee meeting items up for discussion include:

• Authorization of a $1.6 million agreement to relocate water and sewer mains for the widening of Wrightsboro Road from Jimmie Dyess Parkway to Bobby Jones Expressway

• Approval a 98-page resolution related to the refunding and reissue of $98.9 million in outstanding water and sewerage bonds

• Review bids received for resident relocation and property acquisition in the Hyde Park-Wilkerson Gardens drainage project, on hold since March

• Discuss the elevated crosswalk, estimated to cost from $1 million to $2 million, to connect the Augusta Convention Center and the new parking deck

• Approve a beautification agreement with Johnson, Laschober & Associates for the Broad Street median between 13th and 15th streets.

Comments (13) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
Tullie
2930
Points
Tullie 09/10/12 - 04:57 am
3
0
Stormwater Fee

They won't let me say here what I think about a stormwater fee.

Approve a beautification agreement with Johnson, Laschober & Associates for the Broad Street median between 13th and 15th streets.

How much is that going to cost?

dichotomy
37615
Points
dichotomy 09/10/12 - 08:26 am
6
0
I live 1200 ft. from the road

I live 1200 ft. from the road and my beautiful 5 ft. deep, eroded ditch with no shoulder. You know, the one where people drift off the road and I find them dead, laying on my driveway waiting for the coroner to show up. My land is nothing but sandy soil. NOTHING runs off my property. Not even during a frog strangling rain. Not when it rains for three days straight. Oh, there is always water in the ditch. Not MY water. It comes from the Augusta Water Treatment Plant next door. So now they want to tax us for runoff, whether we have runoff or not. Government is out of control. This has been a responsibilty of local government since the first city taxed the first resident. It's PART OF YOUR PROPERTY TAXES ALREADY.

It's been the responsibility of local governments to maintain storm drains since the beginning of modern time. It was one of the reasons people let the local government tax them in the first place. This is NOT a new function for local government. This function is and always has been covered by the TAXES WE ALREADY PAY. Is there a stormwater problem in some parts of Augusta. Yes, because Planning and Zoning and the Utilities folks have mismanaged growth and planned badly when they allowed shopping centers to create huge parking lots and did not prep propertly. In the older areas, it's because the "city" failed to maintain and modernize because they were BLOWING OUR MONEY on redevelopment and Paul & associates projects. THERE IS NO, NADA, NONE stormwater runoff problem caused by RESIDENTIAL PROPERTY.

This is what happens when we pay taxes to a local government to provide BASIC SERVICES and INSTEAD, they become (re)developers and venture capitalists (TEE).....with our money.

This is what happens when you let politicians divert your attention to doing things that government has no business doing and while they FAIL to do the things that they are supposed to be doing. Did you EVER hear the first politician talk about stormwater runoff when they were CONNING you into SPLOST, TSPLOST, TEE Center, Parking Deck, Paul's HVAC re-do, Paul's elevated crosswalk, ANIC, Laney Walker? NOBODY, none of our idiot leaders, have EVER said stormwater while they were blowing out money on every special interest project they could throw tax dollars at.

So NOW we need a new tax. Our mentally challenged, racially divided group of demogogues, who cannot organize a company picnic without screwing it up, who normally cannot agree on what day it is, will all of a sudden miraculously COME TOGETHER to pass ANOTHER TAX ON US TO PAY THEM TO DO SOMETHING WE ALREADY PAY THEM TO DO.

So what's next. What else will they invent a new tax for to pay for something we already pay for? Will they invent a "pothole fixing tax" based on the amount of road frontage on a property? (which is probably all we will get out of TSPLOST) How about a "police tax" for each household. WHAT ELSE IS AN "ADD ON" nowadays? I guess everything since our politicians are blowing our tax money on crap they should not be involved in to begin with.

Where are Mayor Deke and Freddy with their "creative financing backdoor general obligation bonds" when it comes to doing something that ACTUALLY needs to be done and that WE ALREADY PAY THEM TO DO? I guess they are too busy conniving about how to steal our money to pay for a baseball stadium and Performing Arts Center.

The Stormwater TAX on a residence is nothing but a revenue grab to make you pay for something you already pay for, and which they have failed to do because they spent the money doing crap that had no business doing.

STORMWATER TAX?????? Hell NO. TAXED ENOUGH ALREADY BY BUMBLING FOOLS, INCOMPETENTS, IDIOTS, and possibly CROOKS.

dichotomy
37615
Points
dichotomy 09/10/12 - 08:29 am
1
0
Look Out South Richmond

Look out South Richmond County. Before this is over they will figure a way to base your stormwater tax on your VACANT, UNSELLABLE, RESIDENTIALLY ZONED acreage. Either way, you will pay the tax and still have the same washed out, eroded, weed filled ditch out front.

movingtoaugusta
63
Points
movingtoaugusta 09/10/12 - 09:09 am
1
1
Stormwater Fee?

Has anyone identified SPECIFIC projects and BUDGETS for these specific projects for this proposed fee (TAX) to go towards? Would these funds go into the general spending fund, or would they go into a specific account, only for the use of storm water controls? Are we going to hire more people? Are we going to need more offices, more public buildings, etc, etc.

What percentage of the runoff from rainfall falls on public roads, state roads, county roads? Is the State of Georgia going to pay us? LOL.

Is there going to be a vehicle to review the spending of these dollars? 10 million is going to look real attractive to other departments in the city.

Is there a limit to raising this fee (TAX)? Are we now going to take money out of the existing public works budget that is earmarked for road maintenance and replace it with this new fee (TAX)?

I noticed the Hyde park drainage project is up for review, been on hold since March. Is our brand new storm water fee (TAX) now paying for redevelopment projects that were previously approved but mismanaged to the point that they could not be completed under the budgets and plans that were approved before?

Are we really going to give money to a committee that mishandled projects before and now needs more money, but will not give the public any idea of what they really need, or how they are to spend it?

And I don't mind spending money we need to spend. Just please, please make sure that EVERYONE gets to contribute their fair share. Housing projects, parking garages, civic centers, universities, airports, etc, etc all have to pay. IT SHOULD BE IN THE ORDINANCE THAT NO ONE GETS AN EXEMPTION!

Finally, and certainly not the least...........Show enough respect to your constituents to call a tax a tax! It's not a utility, it's not a fee, it is a TAX. Man up.

OpenCurtain
10049
Points
OpenCurtain 09/10/12 - 09:38 am
2
0
Still waiting on the requested Brown Rd drainage ditch cleanup

and have been waiting since the request was put in back during the August Flooding.

The rural south side continues to have roadway ditches that have not been attended to for many years. Despite calls to Augusta Cares there has been very limited response. A call to the County Commissioner was made and a work crew showed up immediately, but stopped after clearing about 4 ditches out of over 25+. Another call to the county still has the same unattended ditches full of years of dirt, leaves, and trash plugging pipes.

Since it is county right-of-way property, legally there are serious issues, if any homeowner fixes the ditch problem the County is avoiding.

OpenCurtain
10049
Points
OpenCurtain 09/10/12 - 09:41 am
2
0
BTW: Another Storm Water Fee?

If you are paying county taxes and for County Water isn't there already fee in place?

Why does a reoccurring question keep popping up over and over.
What happen to the money?

Little Lamb
49247
Points
Little Lamb 09/10/12 - 12:37 pm
2
0
Lax

From the story:

City Administrator Fred Russell said, “We have pipes that are 50 to 60 years old and older and, as with most governments, the maintenance is somewhat lax.”

Fred (What, me worry?) Russell is the city administrator. That means he is in charge of maintenance of the storm drains. Here we see him admit that he doesn't care, doesn't worry about his not doing his job.

The commission has not been man enough to fire him, though he has given them plenty of cause. They are pansies. Maybe when Mary Davis joins the commission we'll get a little more masculinity and Russell will be fired for doing such a poor job over the years.

rebellious
22034
Points
rebellious 09/10/12 - 02:09 pm
2
0
Rain Tax

The article quotes Ladson as saying "The fee, assessed on all property owners regardless of tax-exempt status and based on the water-permeable square footage of each property"

So, unless you have paved acres, each and every square foot which can soak up water will be assessed this Tax if it goes through. I don't think a commissioner needs a phone call to recognize when his/her district will be disproportionately taxed based on land mass. And our commissioner may vote against such an increase, so I may be jumping the gun. This benefit is primarily for the urban service districts, very little for the rural.

One Augusta, my foot.

Little Lamb
49247
Points
Little Lamb 09/10/12 - 03:08 pm
1
0
Permeable

Surely Ladson meant to use the word "impermeable" in his statement seen in Rebellious's post.

It's the runoff water due to parking lots, driveways and rooftops that the storm drains have to handle. I guess the owners of the highways (DOT) get a pass.

Little Lamb
49247
Points
Little Lamb 09/10/12 - 03:14 pm
1
0
$10 Million

$10 million dollars a year! I think they would have a hard time spending this year after year on ditches and buried stormwater drains. They would lose interest and energy. Fred (What me worry?) is notoriously lackadaisical about following through on day-to-day matters.

Look, we had the wettest August in 97 years. It stressed the system. But things are back to normal now. I say, cut out the waste like giving $25 million to the Augusta Symphony and $25 million to Augusta Mini-theater. Quit giving taxpayer money to Augusta Museum of History. Quit giving money to Laney-Walker Museum of Black History.

Get back to basics. We citizens are over-taxed already. Taking an extra $10 million from Augusta property owners (individual and corporate) will seriously hurt our economy.

rebellious
22034
Points
rebellious 09/10/12 - 03:23 pm
1
0
Lamb

How can you be sure of anything with our guvmint employees of late. That's a big difference between the impact of the 2 words.

bubbasauce
24260
Points
bubbasauce 09/10/12 - 03:50 pm
1
0
Dichotomy hit the nail on the

Dichotomy hit the nail on the head! Great post!

itsanotherday1
48409
Points
itsanotherday1 09/10/12 - 06:26 pm
1
0
Today's runoff issues are

Today's runoff issues are primarily caused by new construction, commercial AND residential. Why do they want to tax people who have older properties that were just fine before new construction created runoff issues?
I say impose a stormwater fee on every NEW construction project, commercial and residential, to pay for the expansion of the stormwater system.

Back to Top
loading...
Top headlines

Stormwater fee to fund Columbia County repairs

Columbia County is set to invest an additional $600,000 in its aging stormwater system next year, with the hope that more money and manpower will result in half as many repair orders and fewer ...
Search Augusta jobs