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UPDATE: Storm Water Fee One Step Closer To Being A Reality

Taxpayers currently fund storm water projects for everyone in the Village, but the Village is looking for a way to charge a user fee instead of putting it on the tax levy.

UPDATE: The Village Board voted to move forward with the contract with RA Smith to study the potential fee structure for the storm water runoff fees.

ORIGINAL STORY: Residents may be one step closer to being charged a user fee for storm water runoff projects.

In a 3 to 0 vote, members of the Storm Sewer Utility District met Wednesday night will recommend hiring a consulting firm to study how the Village can calculate a storm sewer user fee.

Currently the village funds the projects through a tax levy, but 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.

Commission members Tony Minto and Jeremy Hinds abstained from voting on the recommendation because they work for two of the eight firms that bid on the project.

Members of the utility district approved a proposal from R.A. Smith National to study how the fee could be calculated. However, the board will still need to give their final approval before the study can be started.

The firm will measure the amount of impervious surfaces each housing unit has to determine the storm sewer fee. The study will cost taxpayers $37,350.

However, assistant engineer Tony Bunkelman explained that the fee would include studying all 11,000 properties in the village, but they could reduce the cost by doing a representative sample as a benchmark for establishing the fee.

“We chose this firm because were confident that this firm can explain to the residents how we’ll use the (fee formula),” Bunkelman said.

In June the village board approved the concept and has asked a Village staff member to put together a draft request for a proposal to fund a study, which has an estimated cost of $25,000.

Schools, churches, and property owned by non-profit organizations are some of the largest contributors to water run-off, but they don’t pay taxes, Bunkelman explained.

He proposed replacing the current tax levy and having all property owners pay a user fee based on an equivalent residential unit (ERU) formula.

If the study receives the needed approval from the board, they expect to have it completed by February.

Tansandy October 18, 2012 at 12:00 PM
Get ready!!!!!!!! This will be only the first of many "fees" that we will be hit with. Because so many people want to keep Caledonia "rural", there will be no increase in the tax base from new business. So keep telling developers we don't want you here, but be ready to open you wallets. And often.
Kim Hoover October 18, 2012 at 01:14 PM
As a non-user, I don't want to pay a fee for a service I don't have (you can argue with me, but you would feel the same way if you were a non-user). Also what many "users" don't understand (and I don't expect them to) is that non-users have expenses related to not having certain services (which can actually be higher at times). I know that there have been other municipalities that have had their rates go up (including communities that have allowed big box development to build), not just "rural Caledonia."
screwprogress October 18, 2012 at 01:29 PM
Kim, if you are a resident of Caledonia, you are a user. This is for storm water run off. this has nothing to do with sewer and water. Any storm water that has to be redirected off of your property( either due to ditching or storm sewer) due to impervious surfaces such as driveways or roofs has to go somewhere. - And some one has to pay to construct ditches and storm sewer projects. Currently, tax exept properties pay for nothing and you, in effect, subsidize it for them!
Kim Hoover October 18, 2012 at 02:12 PM
Please pardon my ignorance on this topic, I guess I don't really understand "storm water" then....I have no sewers, just a slight ditch and culvert, however no one comes for any type of service on this, so I am unsure as to what I am "using" then. My house was built in the 1960's. Flooding on my driveway & such is very real, but all a part of living in a rural area. Regardless, I believe I am paying a fee on my tax bill (I would have to look), so are they saying that I should only be taxed on the actual services I am using?
Denise Lockwood October 18, 2012 at 02:19 PM
let me interject a little... If you live in the Root River or Lake Michigan Storm sewer district you are already paying. And if you are, here's the deal -- the Village is looking at taking out that line item on the tax bill (so they can spend that tax levy elsewhere), according to the discussions I'm hearing. Then they want to make it a user fee. The advantage to the Village is that because it would be a user fee, they could charge tax-exempt properties who are not paying. So the thinking is (just the messenger here), everyone has storm water run off so everyone should pay. They hired the consulting firm to analyze the types of properties/uses in the village and come up with a formula to calculate that fee. Make sense?
Kim Hoover October 18, 2012 at 02:39 PM
@Denise....Thanks for the explanation I do understand the user fee thought process, but I am "Dist 100: No Sanitary dist. + Root River," which means that I live in the Root River area (it is about a mile or so from my house) but have no sanitary district (no sewer, no water). I understand that everyone has storm water run off, but where is the service related to that in my district? Clearly, I am missing something, but am not afraid to ask (and will listen to an response). Always looking to fill my head with more confusion.
screwprogress October 18, 2012 at 07:13 PM
Kim, i believe that as part of the RR drainage district, a portion of YOUR tax levy goes to maintain the series of interconnected ditches and culverts that divert rainwater runoff to the Root River. These ditches do require maintenance, and culverts need replacement from time to time. While it may seem that you do not utilize them, in reality you do, as that ditch and driveway culvert in front of your house are a part of an actually pretty complex system.

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