City Council gives nod to Stormwater Utilities Fund

December 5, 2018

La PORTE — The La Porte City Council on Monday approved an ordinance establishing an Initial Rate for City Sewer Services for the Purpose of Stormwater Management.

The necessity of the Stormwater Utilities Fund, which will increase city utility bills, is due to lack of funds for proper stormwater management in La Porte. This has created significant drainage problems within the city.

“The stormwater utility would create an income stream to fix drainage problems, many of which are longstanding because there isn’t a current income stream,” said Wastewater Director Jerry Jackson. “As of now, money is siphoned off of sanitary sewer fees — and sometimes street. Sometimes problems don’t get fixed when money is taken from street, because it just isn’t enough money to fix these drainage problems.”

The charge will hover around what the average stormwater fee for residential properties has been for La Porte.

The average cost for residents is about $5.36 a month. This ordinance will increase the monthly charge to $5.49. That adds up to be $65.88, annually for a single family residential structure.

Unimproved properties, such as vacant properties and unpolluted land will only be charged a third of the cost of a residential home.

Commercial, industrial, tax exempt and apartments will be charged based on the amount of their impervious area.

This kind of ordinance is more common than one might expect. La Porte’s new increase still puts the city on the cheaper end of the spectrum when compared to cities of similar size.

Currently, there are more than 80 stormwater utility funds resembling La Porte’s in Indiana. Some examples include cities similar in size to La Porte, like Logansport, Crown Point, Munster and Franklin.

Planning Director at Christopher B. Burke Engineering, LLC, Shiela McKinley, presented a comprehensive powerpoint presentation to the packed City Hall that covered what the Stormwater Utilities Fund will finance.

McKinley noted that 55 percent of the budget is intended for capital improvement projects. These improvements will fix road problems and flooding.

Other considerations will be handled with the money from this fund, including operation and maintenance fees, vehicles and equipment, Rule 13 compliance, summertime planning, training and administration fees.

“From the public perspective, it gives you improvement to the drainage system, improvement to the water quality for recreation. We have a lot of beautiful lakes around here,” McKinley said. “This will help make sure that that water stays clean, and you can still recreate in them.”

“This will improve livability and quality of life,” she added. “Streets won’t be flooded and inlets won’t get clogged. Nuisance drainage problems will able to get taken care of with the funds that are generated with the utility.”

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