The city of Palmview may add a stormwater fee to monthly trash bills to pay for drainage projects.
City Manager Michael Leo said Palmview could bring in roughly $144,000 annually by charging $2.50 to residential property owners and $6 to commercial property owners every month.
“These funds are restricted funds that would only be able to be utilized for drainage projects,” Leo said.
During a meeting on Monday afternoon, the Palmview City Council authorized Leo to research the issue and return with suggestions.
“Look into it,” said Mayor Rick Villarreal. “And see how we can best implement it.”
Mission, McAllen and other cities throughout Texas already charge fees to fund drainage projects.
Mission collects a flat fee of $2.50 per month from residential property owners. Fees for commercial property range from $4 to $26 per month based on property size.
McAllen charges property owners based on a measurement called the “Equivalent Residential Unit,” which is designed to approximate the impact of a single-family home on the drainage system.
“The calculation considers the size of homes, as well as their patios, driveways and porches to develop this E.R.U. One E.R.U. is equivalent to 2,700 square feet of impervious cover,” according to a summary published by the city of McAllen Engineering Department. “Based on this formula, the proposed fee was adopted at $1.50 per ERU per month.”
Under the system adopted by McAllen, the average homeowner pays $1.50 per month. The minimum charge is $1 and the maximum charge is $75.
Before the McAllen City Commission approved the fee, the city held two public meetings. It also solicited questions from the public and posted the answers online.
Drainage projects are expensive, said former McAllen Mayor Jim Darling, and the fee was just one of many funding options.
“I wouldn’t expect to pay for major improvements off that $1.50,” Darling said.
McAllen also put a bond issue on the ballot, which received voter approval, and budgeted for regular drainage improvements.
People frequently called the city to complain about drainage problems, Darling said, but he never heard any complaints about the fee.
“I think it’s a good way of doing it because it addresses particular needs,” Darling said.
While the city of Alton also collects a monthly “drainage and stormwater management utility” fee, the money isn’t dedicated to drainage projects
Alton uses the money to pay for stormwater permitting fees, the cleaning of drainage systems and educational programs, said City Manager Jeff Underwood.
The system adopted by McAllen probably is too complex for Palmview to implement, Leo said. He suggested a flat fee.
While calculating impervious cover would be more complicated, a flat fee could prompt concerns about fairness.
“We need to look at that,” Villarreal said. “Because what if I have a half-acre lot and I pay $2 and my neighbor has an acre-and-a-half lot. They’re paying $2.”
City Councilwoman Alexandra Flores said that she was concerned it’d take years to collect enough money to pay for a major drainage project.
“If we ask them to pay this and then it takes us two years to show for it, it’s pretty frustrating,” Flores said.