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Augusta engineering department pushes stormwater fee

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The Augusta Engineering Depart­ment is continuing a push to implement a new stormwater utility fee.

At a work session Monday, Engi­neering Director Abie Ladson presented a detailed proposal for implementing the fee, which would be billed based on a property’s square footage of surfaces impervious to water – such as rooftops, driveways or parking lots.

The fee for a typical household would be $5 to $6 a month, and property owners of every variety, even tax-exempt churches and schools, would be assessed the amount. The bigger the building and parking lot, the larger the fee, which proponents hope will raise $9.9 million annually.

Commissioner Alvin Mason, who endorses the fee, said applying it to all property owners made it a fair levy for a problem long in the making.

“This commission for decades never looked at putting something in place, hence we have the issues that we have currently,” Mason said. “It’s a one size fits all, and everyone benefits. I just think it’s a fair fee for the entire city as a whole.”

Stormwater fees have grown in popularity since they were first implemented in the 1960s, and today about 1,200 local entities, including North Augusta and Columbia County, have them, Ladson said.

“Where Augusta differs from most surrounding areas is aged infrastructure,” he said. “We really don’t know where some of these structures are actually located.”

The fee will fund a stormwater implementation team that includes nine engineering consultants, a public relations consultant and others, according to Ladson’s presentation.

The fee will help in cataloging infrastructure and go toward maintaining about 730 detention ponds that dot the city. The ponds retain less water when overgrown with vegetation.

Commissioner Jerry Brigham, who opposes the fee, said he favored completing the inventory of infrastructure, but that was it.

“I do not want a future commission not to know what assets, what liabilities we have before they decide to implement,” he said.

City Administrator Fred Russell said Brigham’s recommendation was “penny-wise and pound-foolish.”

Commissioner Bill Lockett favored approving the entire program.

“We have infrastructure that was here when Abe Lincoln was president,” he said.

Brigham asked whether the city could reduce ad valorem taxes to cover the difference saved by the new fee.

“The ad valorem tax does not pay for the level of service that we need to provide,” Russell said.

To show how far the department is behind on maintenance, Ladson presented a chart of incomplete work orders. Still open are 74 percent of about 2,000 stormwater-
related work orders related to overgrown vegetation, storm drain management, sinkholes and drainage-
related potholes.

Columbia County has charged a stormwater fee since 2000, according to Super­visor of Stormwater Susan Glymph. The county bills for the stormwater fee with water and sewer either annually, quarterly or monthly. The fee ranges from 59 cents a month for a small mobile home to thousands of dollars for large properties, Glymph said.

She said the stormwater program has helped the county “tremendously with potholes, sinking and flooding.”

Mayor Pro Tem Joe Bowles said the timing of the fee was bad, given voters’ recent approval of a new sales tax for transportation, but it might be a fair way to tax property owners.

“It’s a way to get everybody to start contributing to the benefits they receive, including nonprofits and churches,” Bowles said.

He said he wished the city had dedicated more of the latest special purpose local option sales tax to infrastructure improvements and less to private entities such as Paine College and Symphony Orchestra Augusta.

“Sooner or later, the voters are going to wise up and quit voluntarily handing over money to the government,” he said.

The five commission committee meetings and a legal meeting that were to follow Monday’s work session were canceled because of commissioner absences. Most of the committee agenda items will be forwarded to the Oct. 16 commission meeting, but Russell said a work session would be scheduled beforehand for commissioners to review bids from health insurance providers.

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soapy_725
43676
Points
soapy_725 10/08/12 - 07:49 pm
1
0
Neligence on the part of leaders......
Unpublished

uncontrolled urban sprawl, irresponsible out of control developers, absence of maintenance, has, as Rev Wright said Come Home to Roost. But ARC government has a blank check that will cover a multitude of sins. "we have a problem. It is a problem that have been developing for decades. We have ignored and lied about it. No we will let the taxpayers pay the bill for the former sins of their elected leadership".

Developers should build proper infrastructure before they pour the first foundation. Sanitarian sewers, and storm drains. It should be a part of any documents allowing construction.

Mechanical drawings should be "red lined" each and every time a new or repaired system is opened. No engineering knowledge. Pass the buck.

County budgets should include maintenance funds with specific goals and a timetable. Oops that money is stolen for other new projects.

Basically when you have an ill informed populace of sheeple, you can sell them the same "B.S." every seven years as new information. Proven fact.

No one, government or private developer should be breaking ground without an engineering study that includes the science of fluid mechanics.

Of course these are the same bureaucrats and engineers who years ago allowed county water pipes to randomly increase and decrease with inside dimensions on the way to the customers. There never was a water shortage in ARC. It was a flawed system of distribution.

F4therTime
4656
Points
F4therTime 10/08/12 - 07:56 pm
3
0
Any way...
Unpublished

To tax you they can....I wouldn't mind this so much if everyone paid the trash tax too.

colcores
22
Points
colcores 10/08/12 - 08:27 pm
3
0
Just certain areas of Columbia County

What Ms. Glymph failed to say was that all of Columbia County does not pay the storm water tax.

Susan McCord
127
Points
Susan McCord 10/08/12 - 08:34 pm
0
3
No she didn't, Colco. Which

No she didn't, Colco. Which parts don't pay the fee?

OpenCurtain
10049
Points
OpenCurtain 10/08/12 - 09:47 pm
3
0
Storm Water Drainage

in the rural South-Side yeah right!

We have Open Ditches, if you live at or near the bottom of a hill along the road, the county just lets storm water overflow into your yard.
I called Augusta Care's about Downtown back in August, during the flooding, and NEVER got a response. I wait a few days and then called Wayne G. my Dist 8 commissioner and saw work start within the week at the top of the hill. The county road crew cleaned out about 200 ft., quit and left. The problem is junk, dirt and fill flow down hill NOT UP HILL. So the 30 homes they skipped, continue to be the overflow valve for the counties jammed and plugged ditch system heading down hill.

So why do I say all this?
Think!! If I can't get the county to clean out a ditch system and the county still won't maintain the right of way in ditches,or mow them. But the taxes to maintain them are still collected without fail. So what are the odds we'll ever see a Storm Drain installed? Heck we're septic tank from Brown Rd. out. There is a much greater likelihood The South-Side will just end up paying the extra TAX, while improvements for those "closer to IN town" get their drainage system overhauled.

I sure wish the South-Side could hold a vote to be annexed into the city limits of a merged Blythe, McBean and Hephzibah municipality.

colcores
22
Points
colcores 10/08/12 - 09:42 pm
1
0
http://www.columbiacountyga.gov

The link below will show you the storm water area for Columbia County.

http://www.columbiacountyga.gov/Index.aspx?page=2729

OpenCurtain
10049
Points
OpenCurtain 10/08/12 - 09:50 pm
4
0
Can anyone say

RAIN TAX?

That what it boils down to, a tax to handle rain.

dichotomy
32121
Points
dichotomy 10/08/12 - 09:58 pm
5
0
There you go again you stupid

There you go again you stupid RC voters. You tax yourself by approving SPLOSTs......they give the money away to private entities......and then they come along and put ANOTHER tax on you. When will you wake up and quit being ignorant?

How about YOU South Richmond County. What do you think YOU will get out of this stormwater tax???? Think they might come out and actually mow both sides of the ditch in front of your house once a year. Whatever you get it certainly will not anything to do with actually getting pipes and drains. YOUR stormwater taxes will be spent DOWNTOWN as usual. Just ANOTHER tax they will take from YOU and YOU WILL GET NOTHING FOR IT.

YOU SHOULD ONLY HAVE TO PAY STORMWATER TAX WHERE YOU HAVE A STORMWATER SYSTEM.

dichotomy
32121
Points
dichotomy 10/08/12 - 10:06 pm
4
0
South Richmond

South Richmond County......aren't you tired of paying for services that you don't get. We need to light up Guilfoyle's telephone and email. Not that it will do any good. Even if he votes in our favor he is only one man on a downtown commission. We are trapped in Consolidation HELL with no representation.

Little Lamb
45313
Points
Little Lamb 10/08/12 - 10:39 pm
4
0
Please, Please, Please

Please Jerry and Joe; don't let your legacy as you leave city government be this onerous fee (i.e., rain tax). Vote no and argue against it.

Please Matt and Grady and Wayne and Shoeless; don't put your name on this abomination.

Please Bill and Johnny and Corey; don't saddle your constituents with another fee.

This stormwater fee is bad, bad, bad.

Retired Army
17512
Points
Retired Army 10/08/12 - 11:56 pm
3
2
Well! only 15 years behind

Well! only 15 years behind the same dubious tactics employed in Columbia County by their version of the Republican Party.

And yes Ms McCord, the fee was selective out there at the time of implementation. I lived there and participated in the fight that went on over that one. We lost there, mainly because of the selective process and the savvy that called a tax a fee.

Those of you who have seen my posts know that I am not anti-tax for essentials of a community nature. I do however protest slick political posturing that allows elected officials to truthfully assert that they have never approved or voted for new or increased taxes.

You know! The stuff that comes out of the southern end of a northbound horse.

Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 10/09/12 - 01:10 am
6
0
When you work, your income is

When you work, your income is taxed.

When you take that income and buy a car, you pay a sales tax and a birthday tax.

When you drive that car to the grocery store, you pay a gas tax and a sales tax at the store.

When you take those groceries home, you pay property taxes.

When you take your trash down the driveway, you pay a trash tax.

When the rain hits that driveway, you pay a storm water tax.

When you don't wake up tomorrow morning, you pay a death tax.

It doesn't pay to work anymore.

itsanotherday1
42139
Points
itsanotherday1 10/09/12 - 01:30 am
5
0
Rain Tax?

What a crock!! Existing residences and businesses are not responsible for increased demand for storm water management. If they need to deal with it, tack on a fee to all new development; they are the ones creating additional runoff requiring system expansion and upgrades.

Tullie
2930
Points
Tullie 10/09/12 - 07:31 am
5
0
No to Stormwater Fee

I agree with all the others. We will be stuck with a tax that will benefit only the people downtown..as usual!!

We have a ditch that we have to keep up..there is no stormwater system here.

Consolidation Hell is a good description for what we are in here, and there is no way out. We are paying for sins we have not committed and looks like they are trying to tack on more..

F4therTime
4656
Points
F4therTime 10/09/12 - 08:17 am
4
0
Consolidation:
Unpublished

To take tax money from South Augusta and spend it on the downtown area, give them a park here or there but add a trash tax, less police protection and tell them they are the luckiest residents in town because they are getting a 5 guys and maybe a Target.

catawba7
319
Points
catawba7 10/09/12 - 10:57 am
3
0
LET SOUTH AUGUSTA VOTE

Stormwater fee (NO!). It is time for these issues to go before the people for a vote. A few men voting on how I am taxed is no longer acceptable to me. We are taxed over and over and you see no improvements for South Augusta unless of course they come to STEAL land. Consolidation (what a crock) I did not vote for it and for those who did, do you need more Kleenex?

Little Lamb
45313
Points
Little Lamb 10/09/12 - 01:23 pm
3
0
Business

I was thinking about all the strip malls around the county. They are approximately 100% rooftop and asphalt parking lot, i.e., 100% impervious surface. They will pay significant rain taxes; much more than a resident. Now, in those strip malls are various business tenants. When the owner raises the rent because of the new rain tax, many of the businesses that are just getting by will find that the new rent pushes them over the edge into unprofitablility. Then, we will see more vacant storefronts.

Thanks a lot, Fred.

“The ad valorem tax does not pay for the level of service that we need to provide,” Russell said.

Tullie
2930
Points
Tullie 10/09/12 - 04:05 pm
1
0
Little Lamb

I agree with what Little Lamb said.

And what about all these vacant businesses we have here? If they don't bother to pay their taxes they are not going to be flush in this stormwater tax either.

We do need to have a say in this tax, I was upset when we did not have a say in our trash service. Just having the trash can dumped in the driveway one day and "told" you will use this.

These commissioners downtown need to understand they are not just taxing the faceless some people out there. Some of us just only have so much to live off of a month..we are not filthy rich. I guess I need to move downtown to be looked after..huh?

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