Originally created 02/10/00

Credits to cut stormwater fee

The Columbia County Board of Education's share of a stormwater disposal fee will be $2,500 a month, county officials said Wednesday.

But that's before the county factors in credits that should cut the bill in half.

"By far, the biggest rate payer in the county will be the Board of Education," County Engineer Jim Leiper said during a Wednesday morning meeting with school board Chairman Ray Hicks, Vice Chairwoman Roxanne Whitaker and Superintendent Tommy Price.

The program to cover costs of getting rid of stormwater runoff includes a $1.75 monthly charge assessed per 2,000 square feet of impervious surface. Impervious surfaces include parking lots, sidewalks, roads, rooftops and anything else water doesn't seep into when it rains.

Under those charges, the program would generate more than $1.5 million during its the first year, Mr. Leiper said.

Officials want to use the money to pay for work in Reed Creek's drainage basin. A consultant estimated some of those repairs would cost more than $21 million.

For the most part, the average residential bill will be about $3.50 per month -- or $42 a year.

Thirteen properties owned by the school board are affected by the program.

The total bill for those properties -- which encompass almost 2.8 million square feet of impervious surface -- is $2,528. But nine of the properties have retention ponds eligible for a 30 percent credit. And if schools adopt a program to teach water conservation, they can get an additional 20 percent off. With those discounts, the schools' bill would drop to $1,343.

School officials were quiet through most of Wednesday's meeting. But Mr. Price asked if county officials considered offering public buildings an exemption.

"In order for the fee to be applied equitably countywide, we can't look at land uses," Mr. Leiper replied.

Reach Jason B. Smith at (706) 868-1222.


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