Rock Hill’s plan to raise stormwater fees to address flooding problems throughout the city is destined to fall short. Still, it’s better than ignoring the problem altogether.
City officials announced a proposal last week to raise stormwater fees about $12 for residents and as much as 30 percent for businesses to help pay for repairs to a system that can’t handle runoff during heavy rains. If the City Council approves the increase, all the extra money raised would be devoted to fixing stormwater problems.
The problem is enormous and pervasive, affecting neighborhoods throughout the city. Age-old flooding problems on the south side of the city were highlighted during the recent campaign for the Ward 5 seat on the City Council.
Inadequate stormwater drainage was among the biggest issues for voters in that race.
But the problem is not confined to that part of town. The major stormwater projects list compiled by the stormwater advisory committee features 112 areas. And the city has a second list of smaller neighborhood projects.
The most pressing 24 large projects have a combined price tag of up to $16 million. But the city has only about $3.4 million in its reserve fund to pay for stormwater projects, and nearly $2 million of that already has been set aside for major projects already underway.
Raising residential fees about $1 a month is projected to bring in an extra $271,000 a year. A tiered increase for businesses, based in part on the size of paved property they have, which increases runoff, would produce about $420,000 a year.
That’s a drop in the bucket. If the city is serious about tackling this perennial problem that residents have been railing about for years, it has to find a way to raise substantially more money.
As noted, though, this proposal is better than nothing. We hope it represents a genuine commitment on the part of the city to deal with this issue.
The plan will be part of the discussion next year when the council begins budget talks in the spring. Residents should bend the ears of their council representatives between now and then, reminding them that this ought to be one of the city’s top priorities.