RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Storm water utility fee assessments are beginning to show up in mailboxes across Richmond.
The additional yearly tax is new for residents this year and while most can see the need for the improvement funds, some say it's yet another burden. The city says this new storm water utility fee is necessary for a variety of reasons, from improving public health and safety to relieving the threat of flooding throughout the city.
We've seen it time and time again, the devastating effects of heavy rains and storms on the city. And council agrees - getting a handle on the city's antiquated and deteriorating drainage system is long overdue.
"It's time we be proactive instead of putting band aids on the problems in terms of storm water," said Kathy Graziano, city council president.
The city is already struggling to keep up with federal and state regulations. So its answer? A new storm water utility fee. Customers are already receiving assessments. The bill will go out late this summer.
The fee will be a minimum of $25 upwards of $70 per year - depending on property size. Its one extra fee, this Church Hill resident says is too much.
"I think it's ridiculous. I think the city of Richmond, with our real estate taxes, personal property taxes now they're going to add another tax to us, it makes it very difficult for people to want to stay in the city to be able to afford to stay in the city," said resident Denise Bonaparte.
Revenue collected will be used for storm water management only - like maintaining and improving drains to prevent flooding.
"If it's going to improve the drainage and prevent future flooding, we were here when we had the big flood, Gaston. I have no objection at all," said resident Kirsten Taranto.
City council president Kathy Graziano says it goes beyond flood prevention and is an investment that will ultimately allow the city to move on projects that may otherwise be left behind.
Customers who do not agree with their storm water assessment notice should first contact DPU at 644-3000. And those wishing to appeal on a legitimate dispute have 60 days to file a claim.