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McCarty: Instead of stormwater fees, use current SPLOST funds

Fayette County Commissioner Allen McCarty says he has a solution that will avoid imposing a new stormwater fee on residents in unincorporated Fayette County.

The $18 million in stormwater projects can be funded with money from the county’s 2003 transportation sales tax, McCarty said at last week’s commission meeting. County staff previously has told the commission such is not possible because the stormwater projects don’t match up with the county’s SPLOST road projects.

Georgia law appears to support McCarty’s plan at least in concept, as code section 48-8-121 states that culvert repair “and other repairs necessary for the preservation of roads, streets, bridges, sidewalks and bicycle paths” are acceptable funding uses for sales taxes generated for road, street and bridge improvements.

County staff have urged the commission instead to create a new stormwater utility, which largely will be undertaking replacement and repair of miles upon miles of storm drainpipes that run underneath roads in the unincorporated county.

Creating a stormwater utility will result in a new bill for unincorporated residents, and as proposed last month by county staff the bill would be about $50 a year on the average size home. Last month the commission remanded the matter back to county staff for more answers before a vote is taken on the utility proposal.

The county has previously funded its stormwater improvement projects from the general fund.

“I am totally against stormwater fees or anything else that takes money out of citizens’ pockets, whether it’s a tax or a fee,” McCarty said.

McCarty said the $18 million estimate of needed stormwater funding could be moved to the road department so the stormpipes under roads can be replaced as necessary.

The proposed stormwater fee would be based on the total size of impervious surface for a given lot, but unlike taxes it would be assessed on churches and schools in addition to businesses and homeowners, officials said.

The utility would include a three-person maintenance crew in addition to capital plans to replace old and failing drain pipes.

Asked which transportation sales tax project he would prefer to take the money from to fund stormwater work, McCarty replied: “The West Fayetteville Bypass.”

McCarty has been an outspoken critic of the west bypass, joined by his fellow commissioner Steve Brown. But they have been unable to sway a third commissioner to halt the bypass project, as construction continues with McCarty and Brown being outvoted 3-2 on all bypass matters.

Brown said last week that he agreed with McCarty’s assessment that the funds from the 2003 transportation sales tax could indeed be used for the stormwater improvements.

“You can in fact include stormwater projects within that road SPLOST under the premise of maintaining roads and resurfacing roads,” Brown said.

Also at Thursday’s meeting, county resident Dennis Chase took the commission to task over the proposed stormwater utility and fee.

“A lot of us out there have zero impact on stormwater here in Fayette County,” Chase said. “My property, 100 percent drains into Horton Creek. Not one drop passes any structure under consideration, yet the county wants to charge me $50 or $70 a year and I have no impact, nothing.”

Chase estimated there are about 350 property owners in the county who are in the same predicament as him: facing a potential stormwater fee even though their properties do not usher rainwater into the county’s stormwater collection system.

Chase also was critical of the stormwater utility process, which included a committee of citizens tasked with making recommendations to the commission. Chase claimed that the committee never took any votes, yet was noted by staff to have agreed via consensus instead.

The committee had no information about project costs nor the priority listing of projects, Chase added. Nor did the committee have any onsite visits at certain projects areas, Chase noted.



ginga1414's picture

If it had been left up to Frady, Horgan, and Hearn, the public would never have known that Fayette County's 2003 SPLOST funds can be used for the $18,000,000 needed to help stop the collapse of roads in the county.

If it hadn't been for Commissioners McCarty and Brown, the closed door, back room form of county government put in place by the Jack Smith reign would still be running and the public would never have known differently.

Thank you Commissioner McCarty! Thank you Commissioner Brown! Thank you for having the courage to represent the people of Fayette County and for caring about what happens here.

Thank you for having the courage to publicly tell the truth!

BHH's picture

Thank you Commissioner McCarty for speaking out on this.

It has a snowballs chance in hell.

But thanks anyway.

I know the Flint river bridge at McIntosh would be an appropriate application of these funds since it keeps getting pushed to the bottom of the list.

I don't understand how we have "miles upon miles" of drainage pipe, but if it needs repair that's fine.

I'll pay my share of the tax but I DETEST the idea of the storm water "utility" system of collecting the funds.

There are any number of ways to coordinate the funds with the cities so they are not double taxed for the projects, but the "utility" STINKS.

It's not a wise thing to allow at all.


ginga1414's picture

BHH, the new Stormwater Utility fee is just another source of income for the county.

The county announced yesterday with a public hearing notices that our property taxes will be increased.

The first in a series of three public hearings will be conducted by the county on August 11th, at 7:00 p.m. in the Commissioner's Public Meeting Room in the Administrative Complex.

Since these are public hearings, all citizens will be able to speak and give their opinions during the Public Comment portion of the hearings.

The second Public Hearing will be held on August 15th, at the same time and place. And, the final Public Hearing on Property Tax Increase will be held on August 25th, at the same time and place.

Every Fayette County citizen needs to attend these public hearings and let our commissioners know just how we feel about higher property taxes, stormwater fees, and the fact that three of our commissioners voted against using some of our 2003 SPLOST funds to defray some of these expenses.

It was stated on the front page of this very newspaper that the jobless rate in Fayette County is the highest it has been in 20 years. That fact along with the higher property taxes and stormwater utility fees will directly result in more home foreclosures. More small businesses will have to close their doors.

All of that doesn't even address the upcoming 2012 Regional Transportation SPLOST.

We can do without a road that the county can't justify!

Fayetteville Mayor Ken Steele said last year that the West Bypass was for "future development."

At this rate there won't be any development in the near future, if ever.

So the county is going to further compromise an already depressed economy by increasing property taxes on folks who don't have jobs?

That move will result in fewer tax payers, even further increases for those who will be left, and more empty homes and schools.

The county spent approximately $365,000 for one home just so they can bulldoze it and build another road when they don't even have the money to repair collapsing stormwater culverts under existing roads.

By the way, that particular $365,000 home was just one of the homes they are going to destroy. There are several other homes that will be destroyed for the Bypass. The county offered another property owner $77,000 in damages alone for the destruction that will be done to their property due to the West Bypass.

It just doesn't make good sense; does it?

BHH's picture

there's not much discussion of this article.

I'd like to read more comments and opinions on it.


suggarfoot's picture

It is the same old deal...the citizens paying for the back room deals of a few.

MCCARTY IS RIGHT!!!!...THE MONEY COULD AND SHOULD be taken from the West Fayette County Bypass money, spoken of by many of us as the family and friends welfare bypass (of 3 of the commisoners).

It is a stinking crying shame that this is going on. But the way the corruption keeps pussing up, is that most people are too busy workng and paying the bills. These slugs know it. They know you trusted them to make decisions that are best for YOU...not friends and family.

Next election, Horgan, Hearn, and the forgetful one, will be toast. The next thing we will do is get rid of the county manager and legal eagle.

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