Northampton Storm Water Fee Explained at Forums

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Northampton Storm Water Fee Explained at Forums

A small crowd gathered at the Bridge Street School to hear about the proposed storm water utility fee.  A series of similar forums are planned around the city. Tonight there’s one at the Hampshire Regional YMCA at 7:30.

It won’t be long before Northampton property owners will be asked to pay for a set of ambitious storm water and flood control projects.  And they’ll probably be asked to do it through the vehicle of a storm water utility fee.

Under the plan presented Monday night at a public forum, Homeowners, Business Owners, and Non-Profits would be billed quarterly according to the amount of impervious surface of their land.   That’s opposed to the current system, which relies upon the general fund.

The goal is to raise 2-million a year to meet twin mandates from the EPA and Army Corp of Engineers. Under a new set of EPA rules, the city must clean up the water draining from its streets.     Implementing pollution control practices takes money, which must be paid for on the local level, either through taxes or user fees.

Another mandate is from the Army Corp of Engineers.  They want an evaluation of the entire flood-control system and a plan to bring it up to post-Katrina standards. The dikes and pumping station were built in the 40s after the city suffered two devastating floods.  Many of the city’s crumbling underground drainage pipes are 100 years old and undersized.

The annual cost of meeting all the stormwater and flood control needs going forward is about 2-million-dollars a year.   That includes capital projects, engineering, operations and maintenance.

Monday night at the Bridge Street School Board of Public Works Chairman Terry Culhane gave a presentation and fielded questions. Public Works Director Ned Huntley was on hand as was city engineer James Laurila.

Under the plan, the owner of a small home would pay about 65-dollars a year.  Smith College would pay 62-thousand and Cooley Dickinson 15-grand. All property owners would be billed, including non-profits.

Ward 3’s Owen Freeman Daniels said the city council will take up the matter after the new year.


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