won't seek stormwater fee
a split vote, aldermen kill idea of asking voter approval
for $2.75 monthly fee to residents
Going against a recommendation by City Administrator
Keith Moody, the Platte City Board of Aldermen has decided
not to ask voters to approve a stormwater utility fee.
At a special meeting Monday afternoon, aldermen turned
down Moody's recommendation on a split vote of 3-3.
Mayor Dave Brooks declined the chance to break the tie.
"I'll abstain. I'll let the council decide. I feel
like this should be a council decision," Brooks said
during the meeting.
Later he added another reason he abstained is that he
owns two commercial properties in town that would be affected
by the fee.
Moody's recommendation was to ask voters to approve a
ballot question that would have sought approval to tax
every single family and two-family dwelling in the city
a maximum stormwater utility fee of $2.75 per month.
Businesses, industries, multi-family and other users
would pay a monthly maximum fee of 55¢ per 500 square
feet of runoff surface.
Runoff surface would include the surface of buildings,
driveways, parking lots and other structures that cause
water from rain and snow to run into the city's storm
The stormwater fee could only have been used for stormwater
management, including street sweeping, catch basin cleaning/maintenance,
storm sewer and channel maintenance, flood protection
management and stormwater master planning.
Though the tie vote killed the issue for now, aldermen
kept open the possibility of looking at the proposal again
at a later time.
"We need to do more review into this thing to see
what kind of impact it will have on taxpayers," Alderman
Bill Knighton said.
Knighton said the city could later put the issue on the
spring ballot "if we so choose" after further
studying the matter.
Knighton, Jim Palmer and Ron Porter voted against the
motion to place the issue on the November ballot. Those
voting in favor were Aldermen Lee Roy Van Lew, Gary Brown
and Shelle Browning.
A big part of the proposed spending for the early part
of the tax would have been to purchase a street sweeper.
The city hires Kansas City to do its street sweeping at
a rate of $70 per hour.
Browning and Brown both spoke in favor of putting the
issue before voters right away.
"If we don't let the people decide, it's going to
impact the budget. We're going to need to sweep the streets
whether we do it ourselves or hire it done," Browning
Porter indicated he had doubts that the fee question would
get approval from voters.
"When they see it's going to cost them $2.75 per
month, a lot of them are going to say they don't care
whether the streets are clean or not," he remarked.
Speaking after the meeting, Porter said he'd like the
issue to get "more study rather than coming up here
at 1:00 in the afternoon (the time of Monday's special
meeting) and saying we need to get it on the ballot."
Putting the issue on the November ballot would have cost
the city $1,250, officials said.
The city views more regular cleaning of the streets as
an aid in keeping storm drains clear and stormwater flowing
more smoothly. Several areas of the city have drainage
problems and some residents have complained to city hall.
Moody pointed out stormwater drainage was a major complaint
in the most recent survey on how residents view services
provided by the city.
"Stormwater runoff was second to last in overall
satisfaction on the survey," the city administrator
After complaints during an extremely wet season last
year, then-Mayor Frank Offutt named a stormwater commission
to study the city's problem areas and make recommendations.
Moody said he felt the fee is necessary.
"This is not a service we can pay for using excess
revenue from the general fund. We're not in that financial
position," he remarked.
But Moody admitted the proposed fee would not generate
enough revenue to make major stormwater improvements.
He said the fee would be used for things such as stormwater
boxes, end sections, upgrading of sizes of stormwater
pipe, etc., not for major things like major stormwater
"This would be for small projects," he said.
Moody estimated the fee would have brought in annual
revenue of around $135,000.
He proposed the city buying a street sweeper at a cost
of $150,000, with its purchase being amortized over seven
Moody said he estimates it would cost the city $15,000
a year to own the machine.
During the meeting, Brooks indicated he believes the
city may still be money ahead by hiring Kansas City to
sweep Platte City streets three or four times a year at
a cost of about $3,500 each time.
After the meeting, Brooks said that by hiring Kansas
City "two or three or four times a year we don't
have to write a $150,000 check."
The mayor added he feels the city's top priority right
now needs to be to get its budget balanced. The city is
proposing a tax levy increase of 4 cents per $100 of assessed
valuation, which would take the tax levy up to $1.04.
In a memo to aldermen this week, Moody said the 2002
fiscal year general fund budget will not be balanced.
"The general levy combined with other general fund
operating revenues is not adequate to cover the anticipated
operating expenditures of the general fund," he wrote.
In proposing the 4% increase in the total tax levy for
2003, Moody said the debt service portion of that levy
would be 50 cents, with the general fund levy at 54 cents.
Moody said the proposed tax levy would add a $7.60 increase
in property taxes paid on a home with a value of $100,000.
Brooks said he feels it would have been bad timing to
propose a stormwater tax at the same time an increase
in the property tax levy is being proposed.
"We've got to get our budget balanced. That's No.
1," he said Monday.
At Tuesday night's regular meeting, the board voted to
set the levy at $1.02, two cents lower than Moody had
suggested in his memo.