VALPARAISO | The Porter County Board of Commissioners is working to implement a stormwater fee it hopes will provide more money for drainage projects and ease the county's growing financial woes.
The proposal, which would replace the maintenance fee being charged on an individual basis of those with regulated drains running through their properties, would be paid by residents throughout unincorporated areas of the county, said Porter County Commissioner Nancy Adams, R-Center.
Adams said she is aware the proposed fee could generate some initial opposition, but she is confident those feelings will change once residents see long-standing drainage problems finally being addressed.
"I think it would make a huge difference," she said.
Porter County Councilman Jeremy Rivas, D-2nd, is concerned about slapping the additional cost on residents within the five conservancy districts already charging a fee for drainage improvements.
He said those districts should either be dissolved or the drainage portion of their fees passed along to the county, which is better equipped to carry out large projects.
The conservancy districts collecting drainage money are Twin Creeks, Valparaiso Lakes Area, Falling Waters, Nature Works and Damon Run.
The commissioners, who are banking on the new fee money freeing up existing county funds for other needs, have yet to come up with a fee amount or start date.
Monroe County, which is home to Indiana University in Bloomington, charges single-family homes a flat $35.16 a year and a proportionally higher amount for commercial properties based on the amount of impervious surfaces on site, said county drainage engineer Todd Stevenson.
The fee generates $1 million a year, he said.
Valparaiso has a storm water fee of $11 a month for single-family homes and Portage charges $10.75 a month, with both communities charging various other amounts for multifamily and commercial buildings.
Porter County completed a drainage study nearly three years ago, which identified several hundred drainage projects needed to relieve ongoing flooding problems. The top 10 largest projects carried a projected price tag of as much as $20 million or more.