Recurring stormwater issues throughout the Capital City has city staff and the City Council looking at ways to fix the problem.
The proposed 2022 budget includes a short-term piece of the solution: $790,917 in American Rescue Plan funds has been earmarked for stormwater projects.
But Public Works Director Matt Morasch told the Public Works and Planning Committee on Thursday there are three potential avenues that could help address flooding and stormwater complaints long term. They are: pursuing a citywide stormwater utility tax/fee, updating flood plain maps and pursuing stormwater improvement districts.
“People keep asking me about the issue, ‘What can we do?'” he said. “Here’s a few ideas.”
Stormwater utility fee
If a stormwater fee was implemented, Morasch said, it would be similar to the wastewater fee. Properties would be charged a monthly tax or fee for stormwater maintenance.
The fee could be styled as a flat fee or a fee based on acreage.
A flat fee was considered in 2015, but ultimately didn’t pass. Based on research for that, at $1 a month, the city would receive about $500,000 annually.
“That’s probably still pretty close,” he said.
In order to be enacted, Morasch said, any fee would need to be voted on by residents.
Flood plain maps
The State Emergency Management Agency has reached out to the city about updating and expanding the regulatory flood plain maps, Morasch said.
While part of Jefferson City is in a regulatory flood plain, the developed area of the city has expanded since the last time the map was updated. Regulatory flood plains sometimes come into play when people take out a home loan; in some instances, the lender may require the homeowner to purchase flood insurance.
Updated charts wouldn’t help areas already developed, Morasch said.
“We can get new charts, of course, that doesn’t do anything for people already constructed or built on their properties, commercial or residential, but it just shows them that they’re in worse shape than they thought,” Morasch said.
But updated flood plain charts could dictate how new developments are made, including moving development farther away from the water source, he said.
Morasch said he would come back to the committee once he has more details from SEMA.
Stormwater improvement districts
Stormwater districts, where money is collected from the residents in the district and then used for neighborhood stormwater improvements, could be a tool in addressing stormwater issues, Morasch said. But they aren’t likely to happen, he added.
“We have an improvement district over in Munichburg right now,” he said. “They set up a system where they charge themselves a little bit of a fee each year. And I think it generates like $20,000 a year. They do little projects whether it’s replace the gutter or sidewalk.”
The city would typically have a cost-sharing agreement with these districts, Morasch said.
Some neighborhoods would likely participate, but that’s likely to be “more affluent neighborhoods so that maybe leaves some folks out.”
It would need to be an active neighborhood and likely wouldn’t resolve a lot of issues, he said.
Study group proposed
At the meeting Thursday, Ward 3 Councilman Scott Spencer said he would like to see a committee formed to look into stormwater needs and advise the city.
“I think this could help not only guide the discussion, but it just gives some eyes and ears out on the street to kind of have their voices heard, too,” he said. “I wouldn’t just put anybody on this advisory committee. I think what I envisioned was some local field experts and former council people who have wrestled with these problems in the past.”
The committee agreed to consider the idea and revisit it at the next meeting, which is scheduled for Sept. 9.
Originally Appeared Here