Jerusalem Township, along with other townships in Lucas County, will be part of the Lucas County storm water utility, which will charge a fee to residents and businesses beginning next year.
Township Trustee Joe Kiss isn’t too happy about the program.
“I just started hearing some grumblings about it last night at our business meeting,” Kiss said last Wednesday. “It just sure seems like another way to pull some extra tax from people who shouldn’t be paying it.”
The storm water utility program would cost about $4.06 per month for residents, and several thousand dollars per year for businesses. The monthly fee would eventually rise to $6.80 per month for residents by the fifth year of the program. School districts and businesses would be charged based on square footage of impervious areas.
Businesses and residents could get discounts or credits by adding such things as detention ponds and water quality ponds to their properties.
The utility is for the unincorporated areas of the county only (townships). Any city or village wanting to join will have to opt in.
Lucas County, along with many cities, villages and townships in the county, are under EPA orders as part of the Clean Water Act to keep pollutants out of receiving streams. The implementation of these requirements, according to Lucas County Commissioners, has strained budgets, causing some communities to form storm water utilities to help fund the EPA unfunded mandates. The fees, which would be attached to property tax bills, would address storm water issues such as floods and stream improvements.
“We’re helpless when it comes to raising the fee in the future,” said Kiss. “We have no say in it. They can raise it at any time without anyone’s permission. It takes away local control.”
Marylin Yoder, who is president of the Lucas County Township Association, said officials have been discussing the issue since 2008.
Yoder is opposed to the fee, saying it have couldn’t come at a worse time for residents and businesses still struggling in a recession.
“Businesses are really going to get hit hard,” she said. “I think it’s terrible with the economy the way it is. People are losing their homes. I was hoping that it was a dead issue due to the townships having to find money to pay for police protection from the sheriff. Then all of a sudden, it erupts again.”
She also said the utility is “just another layer of government” supported by taxpayers.
“The county will have to hire people to implement the program,” she said.
She agrees with Kiss that many complaints from officials are over the loss of local control to the county.
“We know the county will hike the fees in the next five years. But what will they do after five years? How many times will they hike it after that? We don’t know,” she said.
Lucas County Commissioner Pete Gerken did not return calls to The Press for comment.
The storm water utility is expected to be in place by January 1, 2012.