Water-Related News

Pinellas Park to consider changing stormwater fee

City officials are planning to re-examine stormwater fees after a recommendation from a citizen budget committee that said the rates "appear to be inequitable."

With the current structure, a residential customer pays $4 a month and, for multifamily, $2 a month times the number of units. Nonresidential rates are based on the square footage of the property: 10,000 square feet and less pays $6; 10,001 to 100,000 pays $8; and more than 100,001 square feet is $10. The money goes toward preventing floods and improving water quality.

The rates should be based on factors that show the strain a customer puts on the city's drainage system, such as how much water runoff comes from a property, said Nancy Hodges, chairwoman of the five-person Citizens' Budget Advisory Committee and a local business owner.

"We need to be fair to everyone," she said. "It should not be one-sided. There should be greater variation based on runoff."

The fee system also hasn't been re-examined for years while expenses have climbed. Hodges said she thinks the fees should increase — not by much, but by enough to offset some of the costs associated with maintaining drainage in a low-sitting city. This year, fee revenue is projected to bring in around $900,000 to the general fund while expenses are expected to hit about $1.7 million, according to this year's budget.

When determining a fee, governments generally look at the total cost for flood and water quality control over the next five to 10 years, said Kurt Spitzer, executive director of the Florida Stormwater Association. Then, officials determine the average amount of impervious surface, or land that water can't pass through, for a single-family home. It usually comes down to the house and driveway, he said.