“You people are making a terrible mistake.”
hose words from Platte City Alderman Lee Roy Van Lew are an indication of the amount of tension felt at city hall Tuesday night when aldermen discussed putting the fate of a stormwater fee in the hands of voters. Eventually, however, Van Lew’s point of view was approved by a majority of those voting.
In August, Aldermen Billy Knighton, Jim Palmer and Ron Porter had voted against a motion allowing a maximum stormwater utility fee of $2.75 per month be placed on the November ballot. The issue died due to a split vote from aldermen. At the time, Mayor Dave Brooks declined to break the tie, stating he wanted the council to decide the issue. He also stated he owns two commercial properties in town that would be affected by the fee.
Once again the issue was placed on the board’s agenda Tuesday. The same split vote was reached concerning placing the question to establish a stormwater fee on the April 2003 ballot.
This time, Brooks exercised his option to break the tie. He voted in favor of placing the question on the ballot at the April 8, 2003 election.
The stormwater fee, if approved by voters, can only be used for stormwater management, including street sweeping, catch basin cleaning/maintenance, storm swear and channel maintenance, flood protection management and stormwater master planning.
A big part of the fee would go toward purchasing a street sweeper. Currently, the city contracts out the city’s street sweeping at $70 per hour.
During Tuesday’s meeting, Superintendent of Public Works Leonard Hendricks said a need was increasing for a street sweeping machine with the fall leaves infiltrating basins.
“By April after snow and putting sand down, the streets are going to start looking a little peaked,” City Administrator Keith Moody said.
“I don’t think this is a fair tax. There needs to be a stormwater survey,” Knighton said.
Knighton added he thinks some businesses may end up paying the fee and not actually using the city’s stormwater facilities.
Aldermen voting in favor of putting the issue on the ballot were Van Lew, Shelle Browning and Gary Brown. Voting to kill the proposal were Knighton, Palmer and Porter.
If okayed by voters, a $2.75 maximum monthly fee for single and two family dwellings will be set. Businesses, industries, multi-family and other users would pay a monthly fee of 55 cents per 500 square feet of runoff surface.
Runoff surface would include the surface of buildings, driveways, parking lots and other structures that cause water from rain and snow to run into the city’s storm drainage system.
Fees for businesses could range up into the neighborhood of $300 per month for places such as the Airport Inn and Quik Trip.