Fayette now seems likely to adopt stormwater utility
County staff will be heading back to the drawing board, at least somewhat, to recalculate a proposed budget for a more aggressive stormwater improvement program that would be funded by new fees assessed on all properties in the unincorporated county.
That was the result of yet another discussion by the Fayette County Commission last week about a staff proposal to implement a stormwater utility.
While a majority of commissioners has agreed the utility is needed, the matter under discussion is the matter of setting the annual fees.
Stormwater improvements are currently paid for from the county’s general fund portion of the budget. Commissioner Allen McCarty has said he wants the county to avoid creating a stormwater utility because it would create another cost on property owners.
Instead McCarty favors funding stormwater pipe replacements from the county’s 2003 transportation sales tax.
The latest projections call for an estimated $18 million needed to replace and maintain stormwater pipes that most often run underneath county roads. But that figure is a bit of a moving target, as only a portion of the county’s stormwater pipe has actually been inspected.
Commissioner Lee Hearn said he wanted to reduce the fee for churches, a sentiment first suggested by Commissioner Steve Brown. Hearn also said he preferred to get a more concrete total cost estimate as well.
Commissioner Robert Horgan asked if public schools could be excluded from paying stormwater fees.
Brown said he felt the county wouldn’t have to deal with stormwater problems if it had been able to keep up with repairs as it went along.
The county has some $1.1 million budgeted in the general fund this year for stormwater work, according to County Manager Jack Krakeel.
The proposal from staff has a fee of $48.96 a year for each 6,400 square feet of impervious surface on a given parcel. Peachtree City’s annual fee, based on each 4,600 square feet of impervious surface, is $47.40. Fayetteville’s fee is $35.40 for every 3,800 square feet of impervious surface.
Because of their larger footprints which includes parking lots, some churches and many schools are likely to face big bills under the current proposal from county staff.
One small church with less than 4,000 square feet of impervious surface would expect to pay about $25 a year, while a church just under 44,000 square feet would pay about $350 a year. And a church with over 140,000 square feet of impervious surface would pay $1,166 a year.
Some 13 communities with stormwater utilities have fees within $2 of the county’s proposed annual user fee. Some 19 other communities have a fee lower than that range, and another eight communities have a higher fee than proposed by county staff.