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Caledonia Eyes Storm Water User Fee For All Residents

Right now the village pays for storm sewer projects through a line on item on the tax levy, but the Village Board is considering making it a user fee.

To pay for storm sewer projects, the Caledonia Village Board is looking at implementing a user fee that all property owners would have to pay — instead of just the customers in the two storm sewer utility districts.

The Village Board and storm sewer utility districts met Monday night to also talk about merging the Lake Michigan Storm Sewer Utility District and the Root River Storm Sewer Utility District.

Officials also will talk about implementing a storm water fee charge using an equivalent residential unit formula for funding the storm sewer utility commission. The village will likely ask tax-exempt property owners – including churches, schools and non-profit organizations – to help pay for storm sewer projects.

Currently the village funds the projects through a tax levy that applies only to property owners in the two storm sewer utility districts. Now, though, they are looking at doing away with the tax levy and instead charging a user fee so that all property owners pay to fund capital, maintenance, operational and compliance-based projects.

In June, Tony Bunkelman, assistant engineer for the Village, explained to the village board that the village currently has two storm sewer districts, the Lake Michigan District and the Root River District. The Lake Michigan District has 5,633 parcels spread over 5,727 acres and the Root River District has 5,570 parcels spread over 21,800 acres, but 392 parcels are tax exempt and do not fund the district at all.

If approved, the move would be similar to what the village wants to do with the public fire protection charge.

Last week the village board voted to move forward with asking the Public Service Commission to strip the public fire protection charge out of the tax levy and make it a separate user fee so that all Caledonia property owners pay rather than just water customers.

Caledonia Retiree April 29, 2013 at 11:28 PM
Why should property owners who do not benefit from Caledonia-provided sewer and water help pay for it? Is Caledonia going to give me a payment when my well pump breaks down? Is Caledonia going to give me a payment when I need to have my tank pumped out? I think not.
Amber April 30, 2013 at 01:23 PM
Caledonia is really trying to stick it to the residents!!!
Tuco April 30, 2013 at 01:27 PM
Of course they will! It's the obama method--share the wealth. You have too much, you need to give some away. Seriously, I'm with you. If you have rainwater runoff into a public space, you should pay. My building in Ratcine I pay for rainwater runoff on property taxes. One of those special user fees for us rich people...
Michael Palazzola April 30, 2013 at 02:29 PM
This seems to be a new variation to increase local government funds, while bypassing tax limits. I don't have a huge problem with spreading the cost to everyone in the community. This is the role of government in general. Roads that I'll never drive on, raise the value for everyone in the area. The problem I see is moving taxes to fees. Where fees are not income tax deductable. Now you are paying with taxed money, so the fees cost you 15-45% more.
Tansandy April 30, 2013 at 08:48 PM
But hey, lets stop all commercial development. This is just the tip of the old user fee iceberg. They have to get the money somehow.
Denise Lockwood April 30, 2013 at 09:23 PM
I have a LOT more coming on this... story should be approved very soon. -- Denise
Denise Lockwood April 30, 2013 at 09:25 PM
@Michael, state law does allow municipalities to fund storm sewer/water projects through what they call enterprise funds, which are not subject to tax levy limits. And as a result, a ton of municipalities have been going to this method of funding over the years.
Denise Lockwood May 01, 2013 at 02:42 AM
OK... story is going to be up tomorrow. My editor and I wanted to work on a couple things.
MITCHELL May 01, 2013 at 03:35 AM
RIGHT ON! WHAT A BUNCH OF COMMIES!
LAURIE from Caledonia May 05, 2013 at 12:51 AM
Some residents don't have sewer .... and shouldn't have to pay.... We need another job to pay for our taxes in Racine!!!! Maybe its time to move out of the county!!!!!

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