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Date of Issue: March 17, 2005

Bradenton Beach officials: $100 per year stormwater fee OK

Without much comment, Bradenton Beach city commissioners have approved the first reading of a $100-per-year fee to residents to improve and reduce stormwater runoff in the city.

Proceeds from the fee, which, if approved later this month, could go into effect as early as Oct. 1, would amount to upwards of $130,000 per year. The funds would be used to create drainage improvements in the city.

The proposed ordinance would also provide for credits for residents who reduced the quantity and improved the quality of stormwater runoff from their properties.

Another benefit to the program, according to Bradenton Beach Public Works Director Dottie Poindexter, would be to alleviate flooding.

The fee schedule would assess $100 per year to every single-family, multi-family or condominium unit in the city. Office space would also pay the flat rate per unit. Commercial properties would pay $150 per year, and mobile home park residents would be assessed $75 per unit.

Any property with a driveway would have an additional $10 charge added to the fee. Pools and tennis courts would be charged an additional $10 fee.

Credits would come for those residents or businesses which would replace driveways with impervious pavers via a 20-percent fee reduction. Installation of roof gutters that drain to a retention-detention area could account for a 10-percent fee drop. Perimeter swales or retention-detention ponds on a property call for a 10-percent reduction each, and if the retention-detention area is sufficient to accommodate a 100-year storm, a 20-percent credit would be offered.

Poindexter called the swale-pond approach the equivalent of the creation of "rain gardens."

"The Southwest Florida Water Management District Stormwater Runoff Investigation and Stormwater Management Plan done for the City of Bradenton Beach in 1996 rated the system as Level of Service F, the lowest rating, primarily because travel over most roads, including evacuation routes, is seriously hampered or prevented by the inundation from a 10-year tidal or rainfall event," Poindexter has said.

"This dedicated funding can be used to enhance the system, correct the defects and improve water quality as required by National Pollution Discharge Elimination System permit," Poindexter said. "Reducing the level of flooding is also a consideration in the flood insurance rating system, which will be a pass-through savings to the property owners.

"The consideration that we also develop a method that will involve correcting participation of the residents to improve local storage capacity through yard and landscaping improvements, as outlined in Florida Yards and Neighborhood's Handbook, with credits to the owner's utility rate, is a win/win solution to correct problems that developed before stormwater regulations were in place. As credits are given, the cost of improvements will be reduced, which will be a fair and equitable offset of revenue and need."

Holmes Beach officials approved a stormwater utility fee last year at a rate of $36 per year. Anna Maria City is currently contemplating a similar fee.

Poindexter added that the fee should reach "catch-up" rates in 10 years and could then be reduced.

The final reading and public hearing on the stormwater fee proposal is scheduled for 1 p.m. Sept. 16.