Storm water fee hike possible

Published 10:23 am Friday, February 27, 2015

EPA mandates for city cause


Ironton’s storm water fees could double to help fund an ongoing EPA mandate.

That was the topic of the city’s public utilities committee meeting on Thursday. In 2006, Ironton implemented a storm water fee, which costs residents $2 per 1,000 gallons of water used to fund the mandate. The proposed increase would be another $2, making the total $4 for 1,000 gallons of water used.

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The reason for the fees is that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is mandating separate systems for sewer and storm water. While it is required by the EPA it is up to Ironton, to come up with the money for the separation. Mandating separate systems for sewer and storm water is nationwide.

“There’s no easy way to do this,” Mayor Rich Blankenship said. “All of the funds from the storm water fee go to the purpose of separating storm and sewer systems.”

The fee would pay for construction and engineering costs. Money can also be generated through grants, but those are never guaranteed.

The five-phase project has a schedule of dates in which certain projects have to be done and is in five phases. Phase 1 is complete, while phase 2 is just wrapping up.

The cost of each phase is increasing.

As it is now, when the storm drain pipes fill up, sewage and storm water are not separated. This causes sewage to be dumped into the Ohio River, and also may send storm water to treatment plant.

Patrick Leighty, from E.L. Robinson Engineering, did not have exact figures on costs as more research needs to be done. The issue was put on hold with council to discuss the issues in more detail at a later date.

If the city is in non-compliance, it will be fined.

“It’s early in the process that we really need to look closely into the financial abilities of the city before increasing the cost,” council member Bob Cleary said. “Do I think it will be increased? Yes, but we need to do research on it before we make any decisions. There will probably be an increase in the near future, but we don’t know how much yet.”

Phase 3 of the project is in the planning and designing stages, but since this is a required project, construction on phase 3 will begin in 2016, Blankenship said.

The regular city council meeting followed the Public Utilities Commission meeting where Ordinance 15-08, adopting the permanent annual operating budget for the city of Ironton for the fiscal year ending Dec. 31, 2015 and declaring an emergency, passed on its first reading as the rules for the second and third reading were suspended.

The budget in the general fund this year is $5,830,292.04, although that can be changed at any time.

Resolution 15-07, authorizing the transfers and indirect cost reimbursements as adopted by the 2015 annual budget appropriation ordinance and declaring an emergency and Resolution 15-09, fixing the number and compensations of certain employees of the city of Ironton and declaring an emergency were also passed.