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Posted: May 10, 2011 7:08 p.m.

City considers stormwater fee options

The city of Covington is considering its options to collect stormwater bills it claims is owed by the county government and school board. The county owes $88,000 and the school board owes $74,235.

On recommendation of legal counsel, both parties have declined to pay the bills. Governments do not have to pay taxes, and many of them have argued that stormwater charges are taxes instead of fees. Covington's lead attorney Ed Crudup said his research has indicated that stormwater charges are fees and can be charged to fellow governments.

Normally, a city's recourse for a private resident is to place a lien on that person's property for the amount of the bill. However, liens cannot be placed on public property.

The city's final recourse would be to sue the county and school system, but Mayor Carter said no council members have expressed a desire to pursue litigation. Both government entities are facing another year of significant budget cuts.

Stormwater is essentially rain runoff. Because environmental officials realized runoff can cause flooding and bring more pollution into the water supply, a fee began to be charged in some places of the country in the mid- 1980s. The fee pays for underground pipes dedicated to handling this runoff.

The standard stormwater rate for property owners is $3 for every 2,600 feet of impervious surface. Impervious surfaces are hardened, artificial surfaces that prevent water from filtering through them into the ground. Unique property conditions can raise or lower this rate. Pervious surfaces are no longer assessed a stormwater

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