Stormwater management among retreat issues
by Wes Mayer
One of the larger issues discussed during the Newnan City Council’s 2014 retreat was the possibility of creating a city-operated stormwater management utility.
The purpose of the utility program would be for the city to provide maintenance of the city’s drainage system and prevent the drainage systems from failing and causing problems such as flooding or other public safety hazards.
In a PowerPoint presentation, city staff showed the stormwater utility program would allow the city to monitor the drainage systems so it would be better prepared to replace any aging segments and therefore cut down on repair costs.
At the Feb. 11 meeting, the city council approved a $171,000 project to fix a drainage problem at Domineck Street and Tuxedo Avenue. Residents there were experiencing flooding when it rained.
Newnan Public Works Director and Engineer Michael Klahr found through a study that although the system was working, it was inadequate and not up to today’s design standard.
During discussion regarding the vote, Mayor Keith Brady, Councilmember Dustin Koritko and Newnan City Manager Cleatus Phillips all expressed concern about the precedent being set by fixing the problem in that manner and noted the city may eventually need to look at storm water management.
“I brought this up last time it was discussed,” Brady said. “You are morphing toward that storm warning management thing which we declined as a group several years ago … so when we start doing these things, be aware.”
The council approved moving forward with the more expensive option, with Brady and Koritko opposing, at the earlier council meeting.
The stormwater management utility would be funded through Special Local Option Sales Tax proceeds, utility user fees, special user fees and grants. The utility user fees, which is what Newnan residents would pay, would cost around $3.60 per month, said Phillips.
On top of this, all property owners would pay $1.11 per 1,000 square feet of impervious surface area — buildings and parking lots. No property owner would be exempt from these fees, including school, churches and the city itself.
At these prices, Phillips said the city could expect a year-one revenue of $1.3 million. According to the PowerPoint provided by city staff, the program costs would be slightlly more than $1 million, but only if no funding is provided through SPLOST or grants.
The city council briefly addressed some of the issues with the utility — mainly how residents would be billed, how the city would determine what each resident or business would pay and whether the additional fees would deter any new businesses from moving into the city.
Hasco W. Craver IV, the city business development director, said it shouldn’t be a problem for the larger corporations who are accustomed to paying utility fees.
On Thursday, the council decided to move forward with researching the idea, and will have city staff prepare a detailed policy — the only council member who seemed hesitant about the stormwater utility was Koritko, who said the fee was effectively a tax.
Newnan city council also discussed future parks and recreation projects at Thursday’s retreat.
Mike Furbush, landscape architect for the city and head of the beautification department, said they would like to upgrade restrooms and park signage at existing parks.
The city is also exploring putting new parks in near the Centre for Performing and Visual Arts on Lower Fayetteville Road, on Greison Trail, and in the Harper’s Farm area. Other projects include: providing trail connections between different parks, and bicycle and pedestrian trails.
Furbush said some possible park needs include a dog park, skateboard park, and large community park facilities.
Brady instructed Furbush to have staff bring a plan to the city council for the existing park facilities as well as determining which three parks are used the most.