The city of Missoula, Mont., is proposing a storm water utility rate increase to keep up with federal water quality standards and maintenance.
For residential properties this would equate to $4.21 a month, as opposed to the current monthly rate of about 75 cents, reported the Missoulian. Commercial properties could see a wide array of increases depending on the specific type of property.
The storm water utility was created in 2016 to maintain federal Clean Water Act (CWA) standards. The utility also intends to manage the city’s water quality, runoff and associated infrastructure, according to the Missoulian.
The funds will help to maintain Missoula’s levee system, which protects the city from the Clark Fork River when it floods.
When the utility was first created, temporary rates were set at $9 per year for all residential properties and $23 per year for commercial properties. The initial rates were set low while the city determined how to form standard rates and what work would need to be done.
The new proposed rates would include a flat fee plus a calculated fee based on hundreds of different specific property types, according to the Missoulian. The new flat base fee works out to $48 per year for all properties. The calculated additional rates vary, however.
Failing to meet federal CWA standards would result in fines as much as $10,000 a day until remedied.
“We’re doing this because the federal government has mandated that we’ve got to keep water clean, going back into the water system that feeds all the western states, and if we don’t do it we will be penalized and pay heavy fines,” said council member Gwen Jones. “So we can either pay fines to the federal government, or we can have a storm water utility where we employ people in our community and actually clean the water and turn out a good product.”
The committee also discussed plans to combine water bills with wastewater and storm water bills to save costs, reported the Missoulian.