Northwood City Council is reviewing whether to assess residents to excavate a detention pond at Greenway Estates subdivision near the Woodville Mall to improve drainage in the area.
“A few years ago, we had some flooding problems,” Councilman James Barton, chairman of the Service Committee, said at a meeting on April 25.
Paschal, Bihn & Sons Excavating submitted a $276,000 bid for the project.
Plans call for the detention pond to be located on vacant city property east of the subdivision.
Council and Mayor Mark Stoner debated whether property owners should be assessed for the detention pond.
“Where are the funds coming from?” asked Council member Connie Hughes.
Barton said the storm water management fund would fund the project.
“Is all this money coming from storm water,” Stoner asked Barton “or is this going to be assessed?
Barton said there have been other projects, particularly near Brentwood Park, to help residents alleviate flooding, and they were not assessed.
“When do we start assessing when we’ve been doing it for free,” said Barton.
“Then the next question I have is, when are you going to put a pond in my neighborhood, or my brother’s?” asked Stoner. “That’s what I’m worried about. What kind of precedent are we going to set here. And are we going to use all the storm water money? If so, what happens if we have an emergency?”
Councilman Randy Kozina said residents already pay storm water management fees that are included in their water bills.
“Technically, it is assessed,” said Kozina. “You’re paying $3.25 per month on all your water bills going into that fund.” The city should prioritize which projects will be financed with storm water funds, he added.
“How can you use any of that money saying it has to benefit everybody in the city at the same time?” asked Kozina.
“That’s true, but we can’t run it down to nothing,” said Stoner.
“I understand your concerns, too,” said Barton.
City Administrator Bob Anderson said there is $798,871 in the storm water management fund. Some of the money is used for daily operations, he added.
Council continued discussion on the matter at a May 2 committee of the whole meeting.
Hughes said at the meeting that she backed assessments.
“I think it should be assessed. I don’t think the money should be taken out of the storm water fund,” said Hughes.
Councilman Dean Edwards said the storm water management fund should pay for the pond.
“What would that be used for if it’s not used for something like this?” asked Edwards. “We’re collecting these fees, and it’s labeled storm water management. That’s what’s going to manage the storm water when it comes.”
Hughes said she has been assessed every year for 37 years for a detention pond in her neighborhood.
“There’s always going to be projects like this,” said Councilman Dave Gallaher. “So you can’t empty the bucket every time we get another project because the bucket won’t have anything in it. I agree that people have been paying storm water management fees. At the same time, Connie pays storm water management fees for her neighborhood, and she’s still being assessed. Shouldn’t we buy her pond? I can see both sides, and I don’t think we’re going to settle it this evening.”
Questions were also raised about Paschal, Bihn & Sons Excavating’s bid, which did not include the appropriate pump. The company agreed to provide the correct pump after the bids were open.
Council wanted more information before they voted on the matter.
“You want to be fair to people,” Gallaher said after the meeting. “How many people are getting assessed in the city for storm water management on top of what they are paying in their water bills for storm water management? It’s going to take time to gather all that information.”