The Atlantic City Council will hold a special session Wednesday evening, to act on the third and final reading of an amended ordinance calling for an increase in the rate property owners pay for a Storm Water Equivalent Service Unit (or, ESU). If adopted during the brief, 5:30-p.m. meeting at City Hall, the ESU, which has not changed in over 10-years, would increase 35-cents per month, to $2.85. The proposed rate increase would generate $25,000 in additional revenues, which will be used to cover the net increase in debt service cost of $15,000 for repairs to the Bull Creek Underground drainage system and continued funding for annual repairs to the City’s storm water management system.
During the Council’s regular meeting last Wednesday, an objection to the raising of the fee was raised by Atlantic resident Charles Griffin, who claims the “fee” is actually a tax on property owners, and is not legal, because the citizens of Atlantic were not allowed to vote on it. Griffin urged the Council to repeal the ordinance altogether. Instead, the approved the second reading, setting the stage for action this week. The ordinance needs to be approved, according to City Administrator Doug Harris, in order to meet the August billing deadline.
Snyder and Associates Engineer Pat Hall, one of the creators of the storm water fee system approved by the Council in 2003, said last week, the whole intention of storm water utility is addressed in Chapter 384 of the Code of Iowa, which spells out the City’s responsibility for utilities, and services provided to the citizens of the community. Therefore he said there is a basis for the fee, and it is not a tax.
Hall said by setting up a utility fee, the City provides itself with a certain amount of flexibility, when it comes to payments for capital improvements, such as the Bull Creek storm sewer improvement project. The ESU is based on the amount of square footage on a parcel of property. Those who have more square footage would always pay more than those who have less.