LIMA — A resolution aimed to extend the deadline for submitting changes to the stormwater utility rate will have to go before Lima City Council a second time after receiving a 4-4 vote at Monday’s council meeting.
Opinions were divided on an ordinance that would change the deadline for city administration to inform the council of changes to the rate from July 31 to Sept. 30. The source of the contention, however, was not the deadline change, but rather the fact this change would allow for a utility rate increase of 24 cents per effective runoff unit per month, bringing the rate to the maximum permitted rate of $5.27 per ERU per month, the first increase in six years. One ERU would encompass one residential parcel, while larger businesses with bigger roofs and greater hard surface area would be assessed more units, because those conditions would produce more runoff. This rate increase would apply only to parcels inside city limits.
“All of the funds, from the commercial as well as the residential, go into a fund that we utilize to ensure that the water leaving our city complies with [U.S. Environmental Protection Agency] regulations,” Public Works Director Howard Elstro said. “We are also making great strides in capital improvements to reduce flooding in the community, which benefits not only residential owners, but commercial ones, as well.”
Opposition was voiced by 2nd Ward Councilman Sam McLean, who was joined in voting against the resolution by 3rd Ward Councilman Jesse Lowe II, 4th Ward Councilwoman Rebecca Kreher and 6th Ward Councilman Derry Glenn.
“I have opposed this from day one,” McLean said. “The reason for that is the way it’s weighted to cost businesses more out of their pockets than the people who use our streets.”
McLean later remarked that he did not want to see additional barriers raised to potential new businesses coming into Lima, knowing they would potentially have to pay more for stormwater utilities. However, Lima Mayor David Berger said there was good reason to use the ERU measurement.
“The fee was not arrived at by throwing a dart at the wall,” he said. “It was done explicitly to be fair, so that the people with the most runoff would pay the highest fee.”
If passed, the additional fee would generate $90,000 per year for city stormwater improvement projects.
Reach Craig Kelly at 567-242-0390 or on Twitter @Lima_CKelly.