Portage
The Times

PORTAGE — City Council members will have a second chance to adopt an ordinance which would change the way the city collects stormwater fees.

City Council member John Cannon, R-4th, voted against suspending the rules, allowing its passage on first reading. 

His vote caused City Council President Mark Oprisko, D-at-large, to call a special meeting for 10 a.m. Friday at the city's police station.

The impervious surface ordinance would not affect homeowners, but could have an impact on some businesses in the community. Stormwater fees are currently determined on water meter size. The new proposal would charge nonresidential property owners based on the amount of impervious surface on their property.

The Utility Service Board held a public hearing on the issue Tuesday, and adoption was anticipated to follow by the City Council.

At the hearing, Paul Abernathy, representing Feralloy, which operates three businesses at the Port of Indiana, said his company was "afraid of the punitive effect" of the ordinance on the businesses and that his company does not have an effect on the rest of Portage.

Cannon voted against moving forward because, he said, he requested information on how the change would affect churches and other nonprofits, but did not receive the information he requested.

Clerk-Treasurer Chris Stidham said the ordinance had been revised from a previous version to give a 66 percent discount for nonprofits, churches and other institutional uses. Schools would receive an additional educational credit.

"Schools, nonprofits and churches will see the same or lower bills," said Stidham, adding that 43 percent of businesses within the city will also see their stormwater bills remain the same or lowered with the new ordinance.

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Joyce has been a staff writer for The Times for more than 20 years. She is the municipal and education reporter for Porter County. She is an amateur genealogist and writes a blog, Remember your Roots, appearing online each Thursday.