Have strong feelings about the idea of paying stormwater fees that are nearly double what they are now if you own property within the New Port Richey city limits? How about the notion of also paying higher street light fees if you own property in the city?
You’ll soon have opportunity to express your thoughts publically to city officials before the issue is voted on by the city council.
Faced with a dire 5-year projection for city finances, New Port Richey city officials are proposing nearly doubling stormwater fees and hiking street light fees in upcoming fiscal year 2013. So the city is having a couple meetings to discuss the hikes.
Why are these hikes being proposed?
The revenues of the city’s streetlighting and stormwater utilities have fallen short of meeting expenses over the past several years. An important reason to make the utilities break even is to reduce strains on the city’s general fund, which pays for police, fire rescue, parks and recreation, library and other services. The streetlight utility is part of the general fund.
Both residential and commercial properties are charged these fees.
The city’s debt-plagued redevelopment fund, which in the past subsidized the general fund, is projected to be out of cash in fiscal year 2014 and will require infusions of general fund money to pay what it owes.
"Without these increases, the City’s General Fund...would be liable for $1.9 million in additional costs over the next five years that it simply cannot afford to bear," city finance director Doug Haag wrote in a press release. "Fee increases of any kind are never popular for anyone; however, in this situation it is essential to preserve the short and long term financial stability of the City of New Port Richey."
The new rates approved this year would stay in effect through at least 2017, according to Haag.
The city assesses streetlight fees using Equivalent Residential Units, one of which equals 1,860 square feet of property. Currently, the city charges an annual fee of $26.07 for one ERU. The proposed hike raises the fee for one ERU of residential property to $36.14 in FY 2013, which starts Oct. 1, 2012.
The city also assesses stormwater fees using Equivalent Residential Units. In the case of stormwater fees, one ERU equals 2,629 square feet of impervious space.
Currently, the city charges an annual fee of $40.327 for one ERU. The proposed hike raises the fee for one ERU to $77.36 in FY 2013.
Your Chance to Sound Off
There will be two meetings about the fee hikes, according to a city press release. The first will be an informational meeting Thursday, July 12, at 7 p.m. at City Hall, 5919 Main Street, New Port Richey.
The next will be the final public hearing on the hikes Tuesday, July 17, at or shortly after 7 p.m.
Want to know more about how we got here?
Check out these articles on the city's streetlight and stormwater fee issues and how they've developed since the last attempt to raise streetlight fees.
*Story updated 10:32 a.m.