Aug 03, 2007

New Storm Water Fee for Oskaloosa, Iowa

Residents to fund maintenance, expansion projects

Effective in October, Oskaloosa, Iowa, residents will pay an additional $2 on their monthly water and sewer bills. The extra funds will go toward the city's storm water utility ordinance.Residents will now pay $6 quarterly and businesses a multiple of $2 each month based on the amount of hard surface on their property.According to city manager Donald Sandor, the storm water fee is important because it "eliminates the need to refund people," since residents will now pay for the time they've spent on their properties.The original ordinance had people pay their storm water utility bills three months in advance; one of the updated ordinance's amendments switched the billing to time spent on one's property. Refunding people some percentage of $6 every three months is cumbersome, said Sandor. "This will provide funds for the city to repair and maintain and expand our storm water collection system."Sandor estimated that the new storm water ordinance will raise approximately $250,000 each year. "It allows us to address the serious issues, but there are still going to be issues we can't address," he said. "We'll look to prioritize the most serious problems and start addressing them next spring."The city engineer and public works director have recommended more than $6 million in sewer improvements, and that cost estimate does not take into account the occurrence of unforeseen events like pipe bursts."Things happen that you aren't aware of, and you need to fix them," said public works director David Neubert, who added that his department has responded to four unanticipated projects this year.The Oskaloosa City Council passed the storm water utility ordinance at its June meeting. The new fee went into effect July 1.