Originally created 09/27/00

Board may reduce fee for utility



Columbia County officials may cut back the billing increments and offer a discount for private pond owners under the stormwater utility.

Members of the Development and Environmental Services Committee met for nearly three hours with more than 50 residents angered by the utility, which charges residents in the eastern part of Columbia County a monthly fee for stormwater work.

"It's unfair, and it's illegal," said Donald McLeod, who lives near Grovetown. By the end of the meeting, residents were passing around a sheet of paper in hopes of beginning a recall of some commissioners.

Under the current utility rate structure, residents, industries and businesses in the eastern part of the county are charged $1.75 per 2,000 square feet of impervious surface - anything water does not seep into. That means a property with 2,400 square feet and one with 3,500 square feet would be charged the same.

However, committee chairman Frank Spears is recommending the county use 8.75 cents per 100 square feet of impervious surface. That's more equitable, he said.

"If the community is better served by going down to that level, then do it," said Hector Cyre, one of the county's stormwater consultants.

Using the current billing system, the county would raise about $1.2 million per year. With the proposed changes, that amount would drop to less than $1 million per year, county engineer Jim Leiper said.

Mr. Spears also recommended private property owners receive a 20 percent to 50 percent credit - depending on how much the pond affects stormwater flow. A discount program is already in place for commercial property owners.

Both recommendations will go to the full county commission Oct. 3.

Reach Jason B. Smith at (706) 868-1222, Ext. 115.