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Date of Issue: March 17, 2005

Bradenton Beach considers $100 stormwater improvement fee

A stormwater management utility fee of $100 per year is being considered for most developed properties in Bradenton Beach.

Goal of the proceeds from the proposal would be to reduce the quantity and improve the quality of stormwater runoff into the Gulf of Mexico and Anna Maria Sound. Another benefit to the program, according to Bradenton Beach Public Works Director Dottie Poindexter, would be to alleviate flooding.

The city would assess $100 per year on all single-family, multi-family or condominium units in the city. Businesses would also pay the flat rate. Commercial-zoned properties would pay $150 per year, and mobile home park residents would be assessed $75.

Any property with a driveway would have an additional $10 fee. Pools or tennis courts incur an additional $10 fee.

However, there are also a host of credits available for those willing to reduce the amount of stormwater that enters the city drainage system.

Replacement of driveways with porous pavers would result in 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 would each be eligible for a 10 percent reduction, and if the retention-detention area is determined to be sufficient to accommodate a 100-year storm, a 20 percent credit would be offered.

"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," according to Poindexter.

"The study included recommendations for improvements to the system to increase storage of runoff, and runoff quality controls as capital projects," she added. "However, no source of secure funding was identified. Since 95 percent of the runoff goes directly to Anna Maria Sound, a state protected body of water, containment of contaminants is required by law. While the city was able to improve maintenance by absorbing the cost of street sweeping and cleaning of storm drains, there has not been an available source of revenue to increase capacity of storage, such as acquisition of property or construction of swales, and an alternate source of funding was considered."

Poindexter said the city had earmarked a large portion of the revenue that would have derived from the 2003 sales tax increase, but it was rejected by voters. Another source of revenue had to be found, Poindexter said, hence the stormwater fee proposal.

"This dedicated funding can be used to enhance the system, correct the defects and improve water quality as required by the 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 participation of the residents in providing 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.

"The first few years will involve considerable expenditures to catch up," she said.

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

City commissioners unanimously approved sending the sample language to implement a stormwater management utility fee to the city attorney to draft an ordinance. No dates for public hearings on the matter have been set.