The Brookhaven City Council unanimously approved a resolution to increase the stormwater service fee during its June 9 virtual meeting.
The annual base rate will increase from $60 to $66 starting with the 2020 billing cycle.
The increase comes to balance the budget of the stormwater fund, which is projected to have no money by the end of the year, Brookhaven chief financial officer Steve Chapman said.
City expenses for improvement projects and maintenance currently outweigh the revenue collected from the $60 fee rate.
Each year, the rate will either increase by 3% or by the Consumer Price Index, whichever is greater. The number will be rounded up to the closest 50 cents. The mayor and council will have to reapprove the automatic increase each year.
The rate is based on the measurement “Equivalent Residential Unit” or ERU, which quantifies the amount of impervious surfaces, such as parking lots and buildings, on a property. One ERU is equal to one single-family home and is charged the base stormwater rate.
District 2 Representative John Park didn’t think the increase was enough, considering the state of the fund and the upcoming development projects.
“We have a lot of challenges in our infrastructure, and I would have liked to have seen an increase to account for the major projects coming up in the pipeline for stormwater improvements,” Park said.
In February, the council previously discussed raising the fee to either $84 or $96 this year and having a 3% increase over the next five years.
However, other council members said this initial 10% increase with subsequent annual increases is a good approach considering the economic hardships that have followed the COVID-19 pandemic.
“In the future I’m hopeful that we can get even more caught up and on top of the stormwater issues, but this is a pandemic here and I appreciate this is sensitive to the economics that people are living through right now,” District 1 Councilmembers Linley Jones said.
District 4 Councilmember Joe Gebbia called this new resolution a good “minimalist approach.”
Mayor John Ernst said costs for maintenance and emergencies will continue to rise, which is why the city needs the fee increase.
“If people want to solve stormwater, we have to pay for it,” Ernst said. “This is the way to go.”