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Friday, January 28, 2011

New Haven postpones hearing on stormwater proposal

NOTE: This event has been postponed to a date to be announced

By Register Staff
FOLLOW: @nhregister

NEW HAVEN — The public hearing on a proposed user-fee-funded Stormwater Authority will continue Monday and possibly end with a vote on the matter.

The hearing will be at 6:30 p.m. in aldermanic chambers at City Hall, 165 Church St. The public will be allowed to comment on the plan before the aldermanic Committee as a Whole votes.

Read previous coverage of this issue

Under the proposed plan, residents would pay a small flat fee for storm water treatment, while businesses and nonprofits with parking lots and big buildings would pay more, based on the amount of runoff they generate. A key component of the plan is that tax-exempt properties, including Yale University, will have to start paying for the service for the first time.

The plan’s critics have argued the fee will amount to another tax for residents, and wondered whether residents will see a drop in taxes as a result of the new fee.

If approved, the Stormwater Authority would charge user fees based on the amount of “impervious surface” on the property, including parking lots, roofs and other surfaces that do not allow water to permeate the ground. The city itself, and certain nonprofits such as Yale, stand to pay larger fees that could reach six figures, city officials have said. Homeowners, on the other hand, will be assessed a flat fee that will probably be about $50 a year.

City officials have argued the biggest financial benefit to the city and taxpayers will be down the road as the city faces increased costs for complying with new water quality regulations and the need to update infrastructure. They also point out the user-fee system would encourage businesses to be more environmentally responsible about stormwater runoff. Also, property owners can qualify for credits if they mitigate stormwater runoff through methods such as rain barrels or more complex engineering.

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