Perry City Council considering new storm water fee

chwright@macon.comOctober 2, 2012 

PERRY -- The City Council may impose a new service fee to help cover the costs of installing and maintaining ditches, gutters, retention and detention ponds and any other structures impacted by storm water.

Residents gave mixed views on the possible fee at a public hearing Tuesday.

The storm water service fee would be imposed with the establishment of storm water utility districts in Perry for the first time. The entire city would be one district, and the fee would be imposed on any developed property within its limits.

City Manager Lee Gilmour estimated the monthly fee will be between $2 and $8 for single-family homes.

The fee would be used for maintenance, as well as capital projects that have gone unfunded but not unnoticed, Gilmour and other councilmen said.

“It’s been very frustrating to us ... to not have the revenue source to deal with the problems that we see,” said Councilman Randall Walker.

Gilmour gave a presentation during the public hearing to explain the city’s storm water problems and why Perry is considering a storm water service fee as opposed to any other revenue source.

He said grants aren’t a feasible option for Perry, money from a special purpose local option sales tax cannot be used for improvements, and an additional property tax would be inadequate. The latter would not appropriately tax all developed land because churches and school properties are exempt, Gilmour said. Such properties create more storm water issues than a typical residential property.

Earl Bowen, a Perry resident for more than 20 years, said he fully supports the fee because his Ridge Circle home is one of many in the city that floods frequently. He asked the council to draft a detailed plan for the spending of the funds.

“We need to have something firm on what we’re going to do,” Bowen said.

Concerns from residents included making sure the properties that cause the largest storm water problems pay more, not adding yet another tax since Perry already has the highest taxes, and ensuring any funds collected would be used specifically for storm water problems.

Gilmour said the storm water fee would go into a designated account that could not pay for anything else.

Gilmour said establishing the district now could head off a future requirement. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency does not yet consider Perry an urban area, but when it does, the city will be required to set up the districts.

“If we don’t get ahead of the curve, we could have more problems,” Gilmour said.

Also at Tuesday’s meeting, the council approved a part-time economic development technician position for a trial period. Gilmour said the position will cost between $6,000 to $7,000 for the rest of the year.

The City Council also held a public hearing on a proposed beekeeping ordinance that would allow the hobby, as long as certain regulations are followed. The proposed regulations include keeping the hives a safe distance from neighbors’ property lines, installing flyway barriers and registering each new hive with the city. The only ban is against Africanized bees, which local beekeepers agreed with.

No residents spoke for or against the ordinance Tuesday. The council will cast a final vote Oct. 16.

To contact writer Christina M. Wright, call 256-9685.

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