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Council passes smaller storm water increase

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By Joshua Coffman

 

By JOSHUA COFFMAN jcoffman@thenewsenterprise.com RADCLIFF —City Council reduced a proposed storm water fee increase to a trickle, but residents continued to pour in comments. After considering a plan to raise the fee from $4 to $6.50 that left the council split, members unanimously approved a compromise Tuesday night to increase it to $4.50. The city wants to improve drainage in flood-prone areas. City Engineer Toby Spalding presented a $5 million bond plan to shore up soggy spots on South Wilson Road and in other areas. But the lesser amount axes that plan for now. The initial increase would have brought in more than $400,000 yearly in additional funding, enough to secure a bond. The approved plan will bring in about $86,000 a year, increasing the budget by less than 15 percent. Spalding said it could take decades to make improvements using only the current increase. The city is also seeking help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. In all, 25 percent of the storm water budget goes toward what the engineer called “miscellaneous” items, including half of his salary. The remaining 75 percent is applied toward “putting stuff in the field,” he said, clearing culverts and ditches, and tackling small projects.  “We’re going to do the best we can,” he said. Radcliff continues to grow, Spalding said, and land already has been developed that could have been used to build retention ponds to stem the flow of water through streams running under the city. With the current rate increase, he hopes to address smaller projects and acquire land to build ponds in the future before that land is developed.    Residents again shared stories and asked questions Tuesday night about flooding in Radcliff. Debbie Reese, who opposed the $6.50 hike, saying she felt more could be done with existing money, questioned Mayor Sheila Enyart on several issues, asking why developers were not held accountable and why more money from the storm water fee does not go directly toward making improvements. Enyart said the hiring of Spalding will hopefully lead to smarter development decisions and said many aspects paid for by the fee, such as leaf and limb removal, are federally required. “We are mandated to clean up the water,” Enyart said. Darick Murphy filed an insurance claim against the city’s policy after his home flooded with water and sewage in April. He said Tuesday night he saw workers clearing a sinkhole near his house, only after his claim was denied. And he said it was the first time since he moved there 10 years ago that workers came out to clear it. Spalding said, since his arrival in September, a good amount of work has been done to improve the flooding problem. But he said only so much can be fixed without more funding.   Joshua Coffman can be reached at (270) 505-1740.