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UPDATE: Huntington Mayor Proposes New Stormwater Fee


UPDATE 12/19/13 @ 5:15 p.m.
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Huntington Mayor Steve Williams has had enough. He's tired of hearing complaints from residents about flooding and stormwater backup. So, now he's taking action.

"This is a new storm water development program," Mayor Williams said. "It's the first time we've attempted to do this in the city. It's been talked about for nearly 70 years. It's about time we get started."

The mayor says a new stormwater system would cost the city hundreds of millions of dollars, which isn't realistic. So, instead, he's proposing a new stormwater start-up fee to get the ball rolling on fixing some of the issues.

"By starting this program, it's not going to stop the flooding on Third Avenue and its not going to stop the flooding on Fifth Avenue, or in the underpasses," Mayor Williams warned. "We're beginning our planning process. We're going to start doing some things, cleaning the streets, making sure the catch basins are fixed. We haven't even cleaned out a catch basin for the last 20 years. We have to get started. This is the first step."

To pay for the program the city has proposed a new fee, which would be based off the square footage of homes or businesses. Mayor Williams says 90% of people living in the city would pay seven dollars or less.

"If people don't want to pay this and they want their streets to flood, and they want their basements to continue to be backed up, that's the choice that sits before them," Mayor Williams said. "But if they want those things resolved, then they're going to have to pay for it."

It's estimated the stormwater start-up fee would generate approximately $1.2 million in the first year. Mayor Williams says that money would be put in a separate account, and could only be used for its intended purpose. The money would go toward paying for a new street sweeper and vactor truck, which would help clean out storm drains. The money would also help create four new positions. Three of those would be for the street crews, and another would be a GIS Mapping position so the city can map out the storm drainage system.

Mayor Williams will present the proposal at Monday's Huntington City Council meeting. It could be approved as early as January. If it passes, the fee could go into effect sometime in May of 2014.

Here's how the fee will break down:
1-1,000 SQ. FT. : $4 MONTH
1,001-2,500 SQ. FT: $6
2,501-5,000 SQ. FT: $7
5,001-10,000 SQ. FT: $16
10,001-50,000 SQ. FT: $25
50,001-100,000 SQ. FT: $50
100,000 PLUS SQ. FT: $100



ORIGINAL STORY 12/19/13 @ 12:18 p.m.
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Nearly every time it rains in Huntington, the streets and viaducts begin to flood, causing issues for drivers throughout the city.

Now, Mayor Steve Williams is proposing a new fee to finally address the issues.

Mayor Williams says the flooding is an issue that has been ignored for nearly 70 years.

The new Stormwater Start-Up Fee will not fix the flooding issues in the normal spots, like 3rd and 5th Avenues, as well as the viaducts, at least not right away.

Mayor Williams says it will cost hundreds of millions of dollars, and that's not realistic right now.

Instead, he wants this new fee to begin cleaning streets and drains to alleviate some of the flooding issues in communities throughout the city.

"We're beginning our planning process. We're going to start doing some things, cleaning the streets, making sure the catch basins are fixed. We haven't even cleaned out a catch basin for the last 20 years. We have to get started. this is the first step," Williams said.

The fee will be based on square footage of homes or buildings.

Mayor Williams says nearly 90% will pay only $7 a month under the new proposal.

Here's how the fee will break down:
1-1,000 SQ. FT. : $4 MONTH
1,001-2,500 SQ. FT: $6
2,501-5,000 SQ. FT: $7
5,001-10,000 SQ. FT: $16
10,001-50,000 SQ. FT: $25
50,001-100,000 SQ. FT: $50
100,000 PLUS SQ. FT: $100

Mayor Williams expects to unveil his plan at Monday's council meeting for first reading. If approved, the fee could go into effect in April or May of 2014.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest on this story.


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