Brown pledges public hearings on stormwater fees
To address citizens’ concerns over the new stormwater fee bills sent out last month to all property owners in unincorporated Fayette County, the county commission plans to host several public meetings in the near future.
Commission Chairman Steve Brown said last week that each person who got a bill will soon get an invitation to attend those meetings with a goal of “discussing the problems with the county’s stormwater infrastructure, where we intend to go and how you would like us to address it.”
Brown said he has spoken with at least 300 people concerned about the bills. Some citizens have threatened they will not pay their stormwater bill.
And even though he voted against the creation of the stormwater utility, Brown said he sees the need for the county to address stormwater infrastructure, particularly in the case of crumbling corrugated metal pipes that threaten to collapse roads.
“We’ve got to do something,” Brown said, noting that there are not enough funds available in the regular county budget to replace all the necessary pipes.
Commissioner Allen McCarty, who joined Brown in voting against the stormwater utility a year ago, agreed with Brown’s assessment that the county was having to play catch-up for work not done in the past.
“We will do our best to come up with a resolution to this problem,” McCarty said.
A plan from local resident and environmental activist Dennis Chase goes one step further. In a letter read by fellow resident Steve Smithfield to the commission last week, Chase argues that the commission should cancel its contract with Integrated Science and Engineering for stormwater services.
Resident Tom Waller suggested to the commission that the stormwater tax is truly a rainwater tax.
“This is an increase in our taxes,” Waller said, adding that he worried a “sunshine tax” might be next “because the sun shines down on the county and causes grass and bushes to grow alongside the road and the county has to cut them.”
Waller said if additional money was needed for stormwater services, taxes should be increased.