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The $3.50 monthly charge would raise money to improve drainage. Some customers worry.
Published Jul. 12, 2010

The city has proposed a $3.50 monthly stormwater fee that would generate nearly $300,000 a year, enough for city officials to plan and build a number of drainage improvements.

The fee, which would appear on all Dade City utility customers' bills, also is enough raise some pocketbook concerns.

At a public hearing Thursday evening, one woman questioned whether the city's financially strapped and elderly residents would be able to afford an increase in their bill.

"It's a community effort," replied Lennie Naeyaert, who heads the city's public works department, which is overseeing the stormwater project.

The channeling and treatment of stormwater is a national concern.

"Stormwater is considered the biggest pollutant in the U.S. right now," said Mike Garrett, a Pasco County division engineer.

Dade City officials proposed this stormwater fee to tackle their portion of the problem. The fee would add up to $42 a year per household. Commercial customers would be charged based on the square-footage of impervious surface on their property, which would include parking lots.

If approved, the fee could net the city about $288,000 a year to fund the planning, permitting, construction and maintenance of the stormwater project, Naeyaert said. Once in place, the city's commission would decide if the fees would increase or decrease each year.

New Port Richey was ahead of the game in 2005 when it went through the process of improving its stormwater systems, Garrett said. Pasco County did so two years later.

In other Florida cities, stormwater fees range from less than a dollar to $11 per month. Currently, Pasco County tacks on $3.92 in stormwater fees for its residents.

Certain parts of Dade City have already been tagged for possible stormwater construction projects, including parts of downtown, Howard Avenue, Florida Avenue's flood control area and the Dade City Business Center area.

The City Commission plans to present the stormwater issue at Tuesday's commission meeting. A public hearing is set for July 27 prior to the final vote.