The Barrow County Board of Commissioners will meet Tuesday, September 30 at 6 p.m. to adopt the budget for fiscal year 2009. The board will hold a separate meeting at 7 p.m. to set the millage rate for the upcoming year.
The county commission was scheduled to vote on the 2009 budget at their September 23 meeting. The budget adoption was tabled after commissioners learned that budgeted expenditures would be $441,900 higher than projected revenues.
The additional expenditures are related to the costs of repairing and maintaining the county’s stormwater infrastructure.
Initially, county officials had proposed a stormwater utility fee to offset the cost of managing the county’s 300 detention ponds and 98 miles of storm drain piping. After several commissioners expressed a reluctance to implement the fee, the budget was adjusted to compensate for the lack of revenue the fee would have provided. Now, the costs will be paid out of the general fund instead of the proposed utility fund.
In order to balance the budget, commissioners must decide if the $441,900 expense will be offset by using the reserve fund or by increasing taxes.
Though current ordinances require property owners to maintain detention facilities on their property, the county’s stormwater department determined that over 95 percent of the detention ponds in Barrow have not been properly managed.
The stormwater utility fee would have been assessed against all property owners in the unincorporated parts of the county. The collected funds would have been used to maintain the stormwater infrastructure, removing the burden from the individual property owners.
The fee would be based on the square footage of impervious surfaces on the property. The county estimates that there are approximately 60 million square feet of impervious surfaces within Barrow including paved roads, driveways, parking lots and roof tops.
Property owners would have been charged $1.16 per 100 square feet of impervious area. For a home or commercial building with 1,800 square feet of impervious surfaces, the bill would have amounted to approximately $20.88 each year.