Strand Proposes Monthy Stormwater Fee of $6.14
By Bill Hughes
PADUCAH - Tuesday night's Paducah City Commission meeting included a lengthy discussion of Stormwater Master Plan and the proposed fee that would fund maintenance and improvements to drainage infrastructure.

Principal-In-Charge/Senior Planning Advisor John Lyons with Strand Associates told commissioners the revenue generated from the proposed fee would fund capital improvement drainage projects, operations and maintenance of the existing infrastructure, the city’s flood protection system (floodwall), regulatory compliance requirements, infrastructure repair and replacement, and the administration of the program through staffing and equipment.  

Lyons said most stormwater utilities use Equivalent Residential Units as a funding mechanism, with each unit based on the total of impervious surfaces - like rooftops, driveways or patios - on a parcel of land. Strand sampled 50 residential parcels to determine an average of 3,500 square feet as one ERU. Lyons proposed each resident land owner pay a flat monthly ERU of $6.13, which would generate $2.7 million per year. 

For non-residential parcels of land, Lyons said their fee would based on their property's total impervious area divided by 3,500 then multiplied by the proposed monthly rate. The city could look into developing a credit policy for non-residential property owners that exceeded local stormwater detention and water quality requirements. 

As for how much is allocated to maintenance, repairs, or improvements each year, Lyons said that can be rather flexible based on immediate needs, the condition of the system during inspections, or urgency of improvements. He also added that his ERU rate is just a proposal.

"The key is, you've gotta balance the expenditure on this system with what's tenable to the community, and finding that right balance is what we're trying to do," Lyons said. 

Strand will be providing the city with the calculated impervious area for each non-residential parcel in Paducah. Once that information is received, the city will share how individual businesses or non-residential entities can get that data and calculate their potential fees.  

Commissioners discussed different scenarios with varying ERU values to see the impact on generated revenue for the new utility.

Paducah’s proposed Stormwater Impact Fee includes covering the costs associated with the floodwall, which currently are funded through the City’s General Fund. For comparison, Lyons calculated a residential ERU rate if floodwall costs remained in the General Fund, and it dropped to $4.44. 

"That's really putting you right in line with most communities in the state and certainly, a little bit below the national average," Lyons said. 

Commissioners Sandra Wilson and Richard Abraham indicated they plan to review comments and concerns from citizens at previous stormwater meetings, such as one from July 2015. 

Commissioner Gerald Watkins asked for a calculation of the monthly fee for Paducah Public Schools, and City Manager Jim Arndt suggested Strand randomly choose eight city businesses of varying sizes and calculate their fees for commissioners to see sample financial impacts. Strand agreed to provide those figures.

There are approximately 1,500 stormwater utilities in the United States with about a dozen of them in Kentucky. In the Commonwealth, the fees for residential parcels range from $1.50 per month in Murray to $9.90 per month in Louisville. The national average is $5.34 per month. 

In the live stream of the meeting, Mayor Brandi Harless and other commissioners stressed that the discussion is far from over about ERUs and this phase of the plan. They encouraged property owners to contact them with ideas or feedback. 

Here is video of the meeting. The Storm Water Master plan is the first item discussed.

Published 08:42 PM, Tuesday Feb. 12, 2019
Updated 07:45 PM, Wednesday Feb. 13, 2019

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