Claremore residents will begin paying a $2.50 stormwater maintenance fee beginning January 2014.
The Claremore City Council voted Monday to approve a new fee that will be billed monthly through the city utility system. The decision was made to add the monthly charge to each property owner’s utility bill to generate approximately $550,000 in new annual revenue.
After various meetings and discussions with local business owners, City Manager Jim Thomas requested the fee be lowered from the original proposal.
“It [the fee] helps us address storm water challenges,” Thomas said. “We still believe long term we have to look at our flooding issues.”
The fee is a flat fee for residential properties and a sliding fee for businesses based on property size.
The new revenue will be designated for storm water system improvements, according to Thomas.
Currently, the system can take 3- to-4 hours to drain rainwater along some roadways, according to Thomas.
Another issue for the city is the drainage ditches, some of which are clogged or blocked by trees or other debris, according to Daryl Golbek, director of public infrastructure.
“We can not work on private property,” Golbek said. “Property owners are responsible for keeping the areas clean.”
Letters are sent out to inform the property owners if there is a problem in the area, according to Golbek.
The council briefly discussed the issue agreeing the city cannot work on private property, however some property owners are unable to clean out the drainage ways.
The council decided to continue to work with city officials to find a solution within the city ordinances to maintain the system.
The fee will provide funding needed to address the maintenance concerns, according to city officials.
No exceptions to the new fee will be made for local schools, university, churches or other non-profit entities.
In other business, the council was undecided on a pending zoning issue to allow a small engine repair business to build a shop in a residential area. The council was deadlocked with a 4 to 4 vote. The absence of councilor Paula Watson left the council without a decisive action. Until the issue could be determined the application was deferred back to the city planning and zoning board. The city council will host a special meeting next Monday to review a plan for a new mobile data system to be used by the Claremore Police Department.