Storm water utility bills shock Richmond business owners

By Tara Morgan - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – Sticker shock for some Richmond business owners who've received staggering bills from the city for thousands of dollars. The new stormwater utility fee approved by Richmond City Council this summer is causing the turmoil.

One business owner who got two bills for more than $10,000 for his properties on Hopkins Road said he'll have to resort to layoffs.

For 41 years, Nick Eubank has kept his south Richmond truck salvage shop up and running. About a month ago, his world came to a screeching halt the moment the mail arrived.

"It about knocked me down, it's just unreasonable," said Eubank who owns Eubank Trucks, Incorporated.

His two stormwater utility bills were due November 24.

"I don't know where they think I'm going to get that. I'm going to end up getting it from my employees by letting some go. Merry Christmas," said Eubank.

Eubank doesn't stand alone.

Councilwoman Reva Trammell said she's received calls from 40 other business owners.

"You have one business owner that's being charged for land that's not even developed, and he's called the administration, and hasn't gotten a return phone call yet," said Trammell.

The annual stormwater utility fee for Richmond businesses is 45 dollars per equivalent residential unit. Parcels are charged based on the amount of stormwater that runs off the property and needs treatment.

"I don't think we did enough, the administration or council did enough, to get this message out to the people," said Trammell.

Public utilities has an extended payment plan option.

"Of course that would be better, but just because there's a payment plan doesn't mean I can afford it," said Eubank.

Eubank said he was told by the city not to take further action until an engineer could take a look at his property. Public utilities wants to hear from business owners struggling with these bills.

Trammell told NBC12 she wants to call a meeting with business owners to offer help. No word yet though if council has any plans to review the new, annual fee.

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