The city of Palm Coast is raising its stormwater rates from the current $11.65 per month to $15.55 per month in fiscal year 2019. Additional increases will follow in successive years, with increases of $1.68 annually until the city is charging $23.95 per month in 2024.
The Palm Coast City Council voted 4-0 (one council member, Heidi Shipley, was absent) during its Sept. 18 meeting to approve the rate change.
"We have had the same rates for about five years, and to tell you the truth, we’re getting behind," City Manager Jim Landon told the council during the meeting. "The infrastructure is aging. It was all put in approximately at the same time 30, 40 years ago, and therefore it’s all coming due for serious maintenance or replacement all at the same time."
Palm Coast last adjusted its stormwater rates in 2013.
The council had discussed the proposed rate change in previous workshops after hiring a consulting firm, Public Resources Management Group, to study the city's stormwater issues and prepare some rate options for the city.
The option the council ultimately chose was developed by staff after a presentation by Public Resources Management Group weeks ago, and has a lower increase for 2019, 2020 and 2021 than Public Resources Management Group's options. Public Resources Management Group's least costly option for residents would have increased the rate to $16.19 per month in 2019 and would have risen to $21.45 in 2024.
The option the council selected, which city staff first presented to the council at a meeting on Sept. 11, would bring in $74.7 million in revenue between 2019 and 2024.
That will let the city do more to maintain and improve the city's 1,200-plus miles of swales, 58 miles of freshwater canals, 31 control structures on the canals, 154 miles of ditches, 26 miles of saltwater canals and 13 freshwater lakes.
The city regularly works on swales and has been doing that at a rate of about 15 miles per year, a rate Landon said needs to increase. The city currently does not have funding for expanding or dredging its canal system, and does not have money in its budget for weir structure replacement, city Construction Manager Carl Cote said.
"The recent rain events we've had in these last couple of years really highlighted the need, and some concern areas that we need to look at," Cote said.
With money from the rate increase, Cote said, the city will be able to undertake a series of projects that it would not otherwise be able to fund.