Fayette County

Fayette Alliance urges support of storm sewer tax

The Fayette Alliance has written to Urban County Council members, asking them to support a proposed storm sewer tax.

"Once the Athens of the West, Lexington-Fayette County is now a place where people and livestock have tragically lost their lives in flooded streams, raw sewage and storm water runoff pollute over 70 percent of our creeks ... and feces finds itself in household basements, neighborhood parks and the scenic fields of world-famous farms," wrote Knox Van Nagell, executive director of the coalition of downtown developers, neighborhood associations and farmers.

The council has scheduled public hearings on the proposed fee for Tuesday and Thursday.

It is expected to hear plenty of opposition to the fee. Commerce Lexington, which represents many of the city's businesses, argues that the tax should not be imposed now because the economy is in recession.

The fee is required by a lawsuit settlement reached last year between the city and the Environmental Protection Agency, which argued that Lexington was violating the federal Clean Water Act.

The fee must be in place two years after a federal judge accepts the settlement, and that clock has not yet started running.

Mayor Jim Newberry's administration argues that the fee is needed now to help bring the city in compliance with the Clean Water Act and meet the requirements of a new state storm water permit.

The proposed fee would be $4.32 a month for single-family homes, duplexes and farm parcels. Everyone else, including stores, schools, churches, factories and apartment complexes, would pay $4.32 for every 2,500 square feet of roof, driveway, parking lot or other impervious surface.

If the council approves the fee, it would not be collected for about six months.