Fayette County

Task force to study storm-water tax

The Urban County Council did not want to discuss or even listen to the presentation about Mayor Jim Newberry's storm-water fee proposal Tuesday.

The council had been scheduled to receive a formal presentation about the fee that Newberry proposed last week.

Instead, the council unanimously voted for Vice Mayor Jim Gray to form a task force to come up with a proposal.

The task force, which Gray said will be appointed in the next few days, has 60 days to report back to the council.

The 60-day time frame was selected so the city can have some sort of fee or tax in place by April 1, the date Newberry had hoped to begin charging a storm-water fee.

Newberry said he does not view the council's action as a rejection of his proposal.

"I just think it's a desire on their part to look at it, and if there's ways they can improve it, that's fine," Newberry said. "I think the community knows where I stand. If they've got some better ideas, I welcome it."

When he sent the council the information about the proposed tax, his memo noted that the council might want to refer the issue to committee, Newberry said.

The task force can work through the issues that haven't been answered yet, said Councilman Kevin Stinnett, who made the motion to create the task force.

For example, the task force can determine how the fee should be collected and review the proposed credits program for people who have a rain barrel or a rain garden, he said.

Also, with the creation of a storm water fee, the city has the opportunity to roll back a couple of taxes such as the street cleaning and the vacuum leaf collection tax, Stinnett said. "We may be able to use this fee to pay for both of those since both of those are major contributors to the storm water issues."

Last week, Newberry proposed the creation of a storm water fee to be charged based on the amount of impervious surface — rooftops, driveways, sidewalks — on properties.

The tax is expected to generate $16 million annually to be used to improve Lexington's water quality through monitoring, flooding fixes and maintenance for the storm-sewer system.