City Councilman Bob Cuff speaks during an Aug. 14 council workshop. (Photo by Jonathan Simmons)

City to consider doubling stormwater rate by 2024

A consultant suggested options that would bring the rate to between $21.45 and $30.27 by 2024.
By: 
Aug. 15, 2018

Palm Coast hasn’t adjusted its monthly stormwater fees — currently $11.65 — since 2013, and it’s falling behind on needed capital improvement projects for its stormwater system.

Even keeping ditches and canals from silting over is a problem: “Right now we’re struggling, because we clean out the swale, but ... [water] keeps backing up into it,” City Manager Jim Landon said during an Aug. 14 City Council workshop. “It’s the ditches that are the real problem, and the canals.” All of the infrastructure, he said, “started at the same time, and all of it’s getting old at the same time.”

So is it time to look at raising the stormwater rate — potentially to as much as $30.27 by 2024?

Henry Thomas, of the Public Resources Management Group, presented a series of four options to City Council members during the workshop.

“If we don’t do a fairly significant increase ... you’re not going to be able to accomplish a lot more,” Thomas said. “You don’t want to keep getting further behind.”

The costliest option for residents — an “accelerated” option — would raise rates to $21.20 per month in 2019 and work up to $30.27 in 2024; the least costly option presented would raise rates to $16.19 per month in 2019 and rise to $21.45 in 2024. That option would involve using debt funding to finance capital improvement projects.

The city’s current budget, Thomas said, “Doesn’t really fund any major capital improvements.”

Thomas suggested the city consider an option that involves debt funding, so that current residents aren’t paying the full cost of capital improvements that will be around for decades.

Although the city has a good amount of vacant land, the landowners are already paying (somewhat reduced) stormwater fees on it, so the city won’t get much of a revenue increase once its developed.

“The increase we’d get as a result of the house being built is minimal,” City Manager Jim Landon said.

The city will hold future workshops and meetings about the stormwater rate in September.

Mayor Milissa Holland asked Thomas for a more detailed breakdown of what could be funded with the four proposed plans.

“As everybody’s looking at this, the other question is, what is the cost of doing nothing?” Thomas said. “There’s going to be a cost to the community of that, it’s just not going to show up on a stormwater rate.”