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City of South Bend urges Common Council to approve Storm Water Utility fund

SOUTH BEND, Ind. --- The South Bend Public Works department urged the South Bend Common Council on Monday to approve the establishment of a storm water utility fund and fee.

The city is currently the only city in Indiana without a fund which is dedicated to paying for upgrades to infrastructure. On Monday, the council said they liked the idea but wanted more information on how the $2 residential fee would affect residents.  

“We have a lot of residents out there who’ve had damage to their homes, damage to their properties because of the infrastructure that’s aging and crumbling,” said Jake Teshka, District 5 South Bend Common Councilmember. “So we’ve got to be able to address that at this point.”

The fee that will fund the Storm Water Utility is based on a flat rate of $2 for residential customer per month and $5 for non-residential customer per month. Director of Public Works Eric Horvath said little funding has been available to fix the storm water infrastructure and the February floods pointed out major issues.

“We have citizens calling and complaining that their roads are flooding that it’s getting into their basements and we really don’t have an established fund to take care of those issues,” said Horvath.

Currently, the funding that has been provided was through Wastewater and Road funding. District 4 Common Councilwoman Jo Broden said she’s in support of the fund but said residents are already paying for it.

“In terms of damage to their houses,” Broden said.

The Storm Water Utility would fund the following:

-  Downspout disconnection ($100,000)

-  Drainage improvements ($180,000)

-  Western Avenue Phase III Separation ($280,000)

-  St. Joseph River Bank Restablization ($40,000)

The number Annual Single Residential Bills is 415,250 and multiplied by the $2 proposed residential stormwater rate would add $830,500 to the fund. The number of Annual Non-residential Bills is 40,732 and multiplied by the $5 proposed residential stormwater rate would add $203,660 to the fund.

The estimated total annual stormwater revenue is $1,034,160. However, the Council said the fees could add burdens to many low income families, which make up 45 percent of the city’s population.

“It’s a tough situation their going to have to weigh, and quite honestly, make a determination,” said Horvath. “Is it important enough to create a funding source to handle these storm water issues that need to be addressed in the City of South Bend or do they want to do something differently.”

 

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