Infrastructure Causes Georgia Municipality to Tax Property Owners
The Atlanta Journal and Constitution
November 29, 2001 Thursday, Home Edition
SECTION: DeKalb; Pg. 3JA
LENGTH: 347 words
HEADLINE: Monthly fee proposed to fix drainage
BYLINE: ERIC STIRGUS
County officials are pursuing plans to charge DeKalb homeowners and businesses a monthly
fee to pay for repairs to the county's aging storm water drainage system.
Under the proposed plan, property owners would be charged $4 a month while business owners
would pay $40 a month.
County commissioners discussed the idea at a work session last week. A vote would likely
come in January or February. If approved, the fee would take effect in 2003. "Our
system is already overtaxed and we've got to take care of it," Commissioner
Jacqueline Scott said.
A county-commissioned study, prepared by CH2M Hill, a firm with offices in Atlanta, found
a backlog of more than 2,000 repair orders. The study showed photos of corroded 20- to
30-year-old pipes and catch basins covered in trash. Additionally, county officials say
they are being called about once a week to repair sinkholes, where such calls used to come
once every two to three months.
County officials warn that failure to upgrade the storm water system could result
in roads caving in or driveways and sidewalks collapsing.
"It's a definite safety issue," said Carl Glover, director of the county's Roads
and Drainage Division.
CH2M Hill officials say the fees would help the county collect about $8 million a year.
DeKalb's storm water system concerns mirror other communities in metro Atlanta.
Charlotte, Chattanooga, Decatur and Griffin are among the many cities that have approved a
storm water utility fee in recent years to offset the costs of infrastructure
improvements. Most charge homeowners $3 to $5 a month. Businesses are charged more
depending on how much land cannot be harmed or penetrated.
Despite the county's insistence on the fee, county officials are aware that convincing
residents will be a tough sell. Comments to CH2M Hill included: "Drainage and
water quality problems are important, but they don't affect me directly."
"It's necessary because we've got to address the drainage problems now before people
everywhere discover it is a problem," Scott said.