Albany City Leaders approve storm drainage utility fees -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Albany City Leaders approve storm drainage utility fees

Government Center in downtown Albany Government Center in downtown Albany
City commissioners at Tuesday's meeting City commissioners at Tuesday's meeting
Phil Roberson, Albany Public Works Director Phil Roberson, Albany Public Works Director
Mayor Dorothy Hubbard Mayor Dorothy Hubbard
A flooded road on Parr Road in East Albany A flooded road on Parr Road in East Albany

Albany City Commissioners unanimously approve a storm utility fee to improve drainage and reduce flooding.

Residences will be charged a flat rate, and businesses will be charged according to the strain they place on the system.  City leaders said the revenue is needed to fix an inadequate drainage system.

The fees are part of a three phase project to update drainage systems and meet federal requirements.

But public works officials said they could help the city reclaim more than $3 Million.

Heavy rains have created standing water in parts of the city, and even flooded one neighborhood in East Albany. But city leaders say a monthly fee of less than a couple dollars may help alleviate the problems. 

Residents already pay a little under $4 in monthly storm drain utilities, but will likely see their bill increase by about $1.89.

"What we're trying to do is model our storm water utility after a lot of other cities in Georgia that have done it so that it's fair and equitable to residents and business owners alike," said Phil Roberson, Albany Public Works Director. 

Roberson said the Ad Valorem taxes and SPLOST money that have been used for maintenance aren't enough for a system built around the turn of the 20th century.

"We've been successful in the Public Works Department working to keep the water out of people's houses and their businesses, but we can only do so much," said Roberson. 

Residents will pay a lower amount than businesses based because homes place a smaller strain on the system.  Leaders said the fees will put the city in line with E.P.A. Clean Water Act guidelines. 

"We're doing it because we have no choice.  It is a federal mandate.  It's just a matter of how we do it, and how long we take to do it and get it done in a timely manner as far as they're concerned," said Mayor Dorothy Hubbard. 

And they said it shouldn't harm economic growth.

"A lot of businesses understand federal mandates and processes that we have to follow.  And certainly we are getting in on this at an early stage, so we should be doing a service to businesses as well as to the public," said Hubbard.

The idea to create a fee for storm drainage was first pursued in 2007, when the city approved a study on storm water planning. Then in 2012 the city staff authorized a shift to a fee based storm water utility, and the final phase is implementation.

Albany State University, Albany Technical College and Darton State College are working with city leaders to help inform the public of the changes that are expected to take place in January.

City leaders will hold public hearings to answer questions.  City commissioners plan to take a final vote on the proposal Tuesday and set the fees in December.


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