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Albany City Commission considers stormwater fee

ALBANY, Ga. — Albany city commissioners tentatively approved Tuesday the second step in what could by late 2013 or early 2014 be a stormwater management plan that would have all users paying a fee that would allow the city to separate water in its storm and sanitary sewer systems.

Ron Feldner with Ecological Solutions presented a plan to commissioners at their work session that showed the potential to bring in an additional $450,000 a year to address aging stormwater and sanitary sewer infrastructure and expand infrastructure for future economic growth.

“We’re under permit right now to collect stormwater and sanitary in the same system,” City Manager James Taylor told commissioners. “Eventually, though, we will have to separate them. This stormwater user fee plan will allow us to make improvements to our system.”

The plan is based on a fee-for-service concept that would impact all users. And, as Feldner noted, since the plan calls for a fee and not a tax, the “large number of nonprofits in the city” would be responsible for payment as well.

Such a plan, initiated in Griffin in 1998 and used now by 50 other governmental agencies in Georgia, would set a fixed price for an average 3,000-square-foot dwelling. The average price in the state is currently $4 a month. Larger facilities, such as shopping malls, schools or hospitals, would pay an amount equal to the number of units based on the average dwelling multiplied by that $4 fee.

Feldner said credits would be given for specific green initiatives.

“Does the plan take into account structures that might be smaller than 3,000 square feet or other greenspace initiatives?” Commissioner Roger Marietta asked. “I don’t want the public to see this and think it’s just a flat $50-a-year fee for everyone.”

Feldner said that once the commission set a per-unit fee, fees could be determined for individual dwellings and businesses and what credits might be awarded for green initiatives.

“So, if you have a $4 fee for a 3,000-square-foot home, and someone has a 1,500-square-foot home ...?” Marietta asked.

“Two dollars a month,” Feldner replied.

The commission also received updates from directors of the Albany Convention and Visitors Bureau and its Human Resources department during the work session.

The CVB’s Rashelle Beasley said $1,460,526 in hotel/motel tax income from 2011-2012 had been split equally by the city and CVB, giving each $730,262.

“Your CVB investment, according to the state of Georgia and the U.S. Travel Association, has contributed to $184.15 million in domestic travel expenditures for Albany,” Beasley said.

“We’re working with the hotels at every end, and this collection — the largest ever and a 7 percent increase over last year — is a product of all of us working together,” Beasley said before the meeting.

City HR Director Henry Cohen gave an overview of the department’s new policy manual, which will be discussed and eventually approved by the board.

“The original (manual) was adopted in 1981, and some sections are no longer applicable, others out of date,” Cohen said. “We’ve reviewed that manual and updated it to represent the best practices and compliance with current laws.”

Assistant City Manager Wes Smith asked for input so that he can present a list of possible sites for the city’s long-delayed multimodal transportation center. To remain eligible for federal funds, Smith told commissioners, a study on any prospective site would have to be completed.

Commissioner Bob Langstaff said he opposes spending any more money for a study when “it’s apparent from what’s been said around this table that no site will get four votes except the old Greyhound station.”

“Spending more money is pointless,” he said.

Commissioner Tommie Postell asked Langstaff if he thought certain commissioners were “in cahoots” with officials at the bus station that currently serves as the city’s transit system and transportation hub, then said, “I favor funding the study so we can get out of this 15-year quagmire.”

The commission eventually voted to tentatively approve $150,000 for a study after Taylor told them, “If there is no intent to find a permanent site (for the transportation center), I submit to you that the (Federal Transit Authority) will no longer fund (at $8,000 a month) the temporary site that they’ve been funding for the past 13 years.”

Comments

tocar 2 years ago

Every person in Albany who pays utilities whether it be home ownership or rentals should be required to pay the fee. It should be billed with utilities each month. It is not fair to keep passing everything on to the 15 percent taxpayers. We have been taxed to death and utilities keep increasing. Everyone should have to share alike. We are tired of supporting those that refuse to work and live off of the system and everyone else. Mr. Marietta, please realize that the majority of taxpayers live on very fixed incomes and just can't keep supporting the streetwalkers.

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KaosinAlbany 2 years ago

That is right. You tell Wonderbread. We are tired of the city's crap when it comes to us property owners being the ones to pay for all of these fees and tax increases. Plus, wasn't SPLOST, when it first was implemented, suppose to pay for the sewer upgrades? This is why I don't vote for SPLOST because the money doesn't usually go to the listed projects and it NEVER goes away.

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chinaberry25 2 years ago

You are talking about the splosh already in place? There was one for the library too, but there have been changes on it too. Not to mention the layoffs and the closing of libraries. Where does one go to find what is and is not suppose to be funded?

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rightasrain 2 years ago

Don't you just 'love it' when the Grand Puba's on the City Commission now refer to new taxes "fees"? They must be riding bareback if they think we citizens don't know what they're doing. If you're going to screw us once again; just call it the tax that it is and require EVERYONE that receives a utility bill to pay it, not just property owners. Then, at your "re-election" you can join the tens of thousands in Albany/DOCO and get your government handouts (if you're not getting it already). Screw you City Commissioners!

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FryarTuk 2 years ago

The answer is not more taxes in Albany. The answer is better management of the confiscatory property taxes all ready in force.

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Phillbow 2 years ago

I totally agree. Better management in ALL departments!

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thedeepend 2 years ago

Oh what a wonderful life to be blessed with the opportunity to live on the government's plantation. Wear the title proudly fellow Albanians, we are wage slaves. Property of the state. Thank your god for brilliant men like Postell & Marietta who lead our way to the poor house while keeping their industry of poverty full steam ahead. Is this not the promised land I keep hearing about?

Just don't ask why SPLOST isn't being used to address the problem as it was originally intended. We wouldn't want to squander a chance to invent another "fee", would we? Its only $4 today, don't complain. Next will be another 10% on utilities to make up for the Great MEAG Swindle. And lets not forget the 1.33 mil increase annually over the next three years. Oh, and the forced conservation of water is causing the price to go up, so water will cost more. Then we'll "expand the tax base" again, so the mayor won't need to raise property taxes.... Yes, where would we be without these visionaries?

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VSU 2 years ago

Whether it's a fee or tax, it's still money coming out of our pockets. Before long we will have to pay a fee to breathe the air.

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chinaberry25 2 years ago

You are right! If it walks like duck as the saying goes, it is a duck! If it is a fee that gives them more leeway to spend it for other ventures. When I die, we will still be using the antiquated sewer system that flooded Albany in 1994. If we got a 10 inch or more rain, we would look like Placquemines Parrish, but Obama won't be visiting us.

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1d2ec 2 years ago

What is the difference between a fee and a tax? Both require payment. What internet is charged is passed to the user, same for telephones and every other business that pays. Alltel 911 fee $4.50 Other charges and credits $7.53 Taxes $5.61 Sliced into small pieces looks better than a $17.64 chunk per month or $211.68 per year.. A Monthly service charge $79.97 is now a $97.61 Charge. So life goes on.

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KaosinAlbany 2 years ago

Wow, Langstaff just woke up to smell the roses! I totally agree with his statement. Vote down paying any more money on this pointless new multi-model study. The people have spoken and we want the existing center renovated and kept in the same location. It will save money in the long run and then the bus station can expand if they so desire. Plus, it would really hurt the businesses in that location if it is moved.

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KaosinAlbany 2 years ago

Why oh why won't the commission listen to us? I know they think they are smart and all but to be honest they lack vision and are on a spending spree. It needs to come to a halt. Listen to the tax payers and listen to Col. Taylor for once regarding the budget plan.

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FryarTuk 2 years ago

The DoCo Taxpayers need to be reactivated with the purpose of overseeing City, County & DCSS dysfuntion.

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AnotherMom 2 years ago

Did anyone notice what our illustrious Tommie Postell said? He thinks someone is in cahoots with someone to keep the bus station where it is currently located? Oh, please....

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VSU 2 years ago

I guess they figured since we voted down the splost, they are going to try to steal the money from us another way. Probably want to put up another Arch or build another monument or something not very important.

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