I did see on another page comments in regards
to the Stormwater Management and there appears to be a lot of misunderstanding, a lot of misstatements, that I would like
to clear up.
First of all, Irmo doesn't have a stormwater
management department. Whoever said that, is wrong. Whoever repeated it, was wrong and incorrect. Since I know one councilmember
started this debate I would hope he would be the one to get on that page and correct the misstatements. But he doesn't, maybe
he doesn't know, maybe he doesn't care, or maybe he just cares about causing a lot of strife in the community.
The EPA has been getting tougher and tougher on stormwater. Which is NOT sewer, but
rain water (or melting snow which we don't usually have) that gets in the stormwater systems, that gets into the rivers, lakes,
the ocean. It may carry with it anything in your yard from fertilizer, antifreeze, motor oil, detergents, to animal feces.
It may also carry chemicals from businesses. EPA requires stormwater to be tested. Much more today than they did years ago.
They have passed laws at the federal level, on the states,and local governments to address the issues. They are unfunded mandates,
meaning they give no money to cover it. They require all local governments to do certain things, and meet certain guidelines,
or you are fined. They also require local governments to have a stormwater management department/personnel. They do allow
smaller municipalities to work with counties who have the personnel. The Town of Irmo, like many other things, has signed
on to Lexington County Stormwater Management Consortium. And we have adopted their ordinances governing stormwater management/stormwater
policy. We pay to the Consortium. I believe about $11,000 a year is our portion based on population, etc.
In order for the Town to be in compliance with the guidelines and regulations we have
to test stormwater leaving the municipalities at certain areas. If we find traces in the stormwater of chemicals, animal feces,
human feces, etc. we have to test backwards until we find the source. We have to pay for those tests. As we had mentioned
in previous meetings (budget and town council), the cost to the town to do the testing, the permit costs, our cost to belong
to the Consortium has approached $30,000 annually. In years past we paid these costs out of general funds, but as medical
and liability insurance, employee benefits, retirement contributions, and all other costs increase, just like in your home,
utilities, gas, etc. our General Fund is getting pinched. Just like you, you have to live within your means. You either increase
your income/revenue, or you cut your spending. Since our spending is very limited in the Town as it is, most is payroll, most
is police department, public works, there is no programs and/or services that the Town can eliminate. So we have to increase
revenue. The State limits that as well.
We do not
have a municipal property tax in the Town of Irmo. You pay a property tax to the County, but not to the Town. So we do not
have a property tax to increase. We can bring one back, and depending on what millage we brought back we could pay for a lot
of things citizens want. And if we brought back an even higher property tax, we could pay for the things the citizens want
and all the things every councilmember wants. Worthwhile or not. But I don't think that is the avenue we need to take at this
The State does allow municipalities to charge
service fees to offset costs of providing some services. We have decided to charge this annual $8.00 per home Stormwater Mangement
Fee to cover the cost imposed upon the Town by unfunded mandates from the federal and state governments. We have no choice
whether to do it or not, the fines would be more, and you would still have to do it after the fine, or face more fines. I'm
not happy, neither are other councilmembers, but this is the cost of this service to the Town. At our last meeting, Whitt
Cline, our Public Works Director who does the testing and oversees the Town's compliance with the EPA mandates and the County
Stormwater Management Policy mentioned that probably in the next year 30% of his time will be involved in Stormwater Management.
Which means we may need to hire an additional employee to do nothing but stormwater management, which is an additional $40-60,000
cost when you add in salary, insurance, benefits, retirement, etc.
was mentioned on that page that we shouldn't be doing this, that it was DOT's responsibility. No it isn't. Most of the roads
in Irmo are not covered by DOT, they're County roads. EPA and the Feds, and the State did not mandate DOT to do stormwater
management, they mandated local governments (counties and municipalities) to do this. DOT doesn't do it on interstates, state
highways, not anywhere. They may design stormwater systems when a DOT road is being built or widened, but after that it's
not theirs. It's counties and/or municipalities.
it is easy to get on a facebook page and talk about Irmo or how any government ought to do this, ought not to do that, but
if that ain't what the law says, that ain't what the law says. And that ain't what you can do. We're doing what the law requires
because that is what the law requires us to do. If we didn't have to do it, if you know me, then you know we wouldn't be doing
it. If they gave us the money to do what they tell us to, we wouldn't have to be raising the fees, raising a tax, to cover
You have state legislators, you have legislators
in Washington, you pay taxes to your county, you pay taxes to your state, and you pay taxes to Washington. That is who you
should be talking to about unfunded mandates. All those are is a way for elected people in Washington, at the State House,
to say “oh, look what we are doing, look what we are fixing”, but they are not willing to raise the taxes to raise
the revenue to fix it. They leave it up to the municipalities to be the bad guys, and raise the taxes. We're at the bottom
of the totem pole. Talk to your state legislators, ask them to start funding these things, ask them to man up and vote to
increase taxes at the state level to pay for this stuff. And if they won't, then don't pass bills without funding them.
By the way it is my understanding that the City of Columbia
adds an $11.00 stormwater management fee every month to every home in the City of Columbia.