As I’m sitting at my desk deliberating how to approach this topic with you, I’ve decided to begin with a question:
What is the single word that strikes the most fear in the hearts of our residents? Flooding.
We cringe at the awful images on TV of flooding in other Florida neighborhoods and homes. We are astounded by the torrents of driving rain that can fall here in short periods of time. We expect our city government to act on the principle that it’s easier and less expensive to prevent stormwater problems through proper planning than it is to rebuild flooded properties.
For these reasons and many others, your City Council will continue to support a proactive approach to stormwater management.
Decades ago, ITT Corporation designed our infrastructure to maintain stormwater flow and drainage with 1,222 miles of swales, 177 miles of ditches, 58 miles of freshwater canals, and 14 flood-control structures.
The system, though simple in design and dedicated to the principles of a green environment, has proven to be resilient and protected our community from an ever-present threat of storm-related disaster.
And if you’re new to Palm Coast, please know that those trenches across your front lawns are called swales. They collect excess water, naturally filter it, and channel it into storm drains and out to the Intracoastal Waterway. Full swales are a good thing, holding stormwater and keeping it outside your front door.
Over the years, we’ve prudently invested in mechanisms that maintain flow and drainage, but we’ve now reached the point where frequently fierce storms and forecast growth threaten the "bones" of our aging system. It’s more important than ever that Palm Coast update, upgrade and smartly plan its future.
Beginning Oct. 1, Palm Coast citizens will see their stormwater fee increase on utility bills — from $22.27 to $28.34.
This is an increase of $6.07 per month, or 20 cents per day.
Much like your own daily budgeting, the operating costs of doing business in the city of Palm Coast continue to rise.
So here is what we plan to pay for in 2023/24 with your twenty cents:
- Increased cost of pipes and contract services
- Cost of chemicals for aquatic weed control for canals, ditches, and lakes
- Major Roadway Pipe Lining or Replacement projects at Belle Terre Pkwy near Kathleen Trail and Seminole Woods Blvd at the Iroquois Canal
- Minor Roadway Pipe Lining or Replacement Projects in the P, S, B, W, and F sections
- Addition of an in-house freshwater canal and weir maintenance crew and equipment in the second half of the upcoming fiscal year. This upgrade will help maintain, inspect, and mow weir sites and pump stations to keep them properly maintained. It will also immediately address emergencies.
- Addition of a second ditch crew to work in tandem with our existing two swale rehabilitation crews to address ditches in the same areas at the same time.
- Preparation for a new in-house concrete/asphalt crew that will complete pipe replacement projects as our pipes are beginning to fail at a higher rate. This will result in less impact on citizens, including fewer road closures.
- Addition of a stormwater specialist staff member to more timely address permit inspections and citizen inquiries.
Every single property owner in palm coast whose land drains into our system will pay their fair share. This includes:
- Commercial and retail businesses
- New developers who have been approved to build in Palm Coast
- Golf courses
- Owners of rental properties (condos, apartments, duplexes)
- Homesteaded and non-homesteaded properties
Your City Council will review the stormwater fees every year to ensure that every tax dollar is invested wisely to protect our homes and lifestyle.
With best wishes for your health and safety,
David I. Alfin
Mayor, City of Palm Coast, Florida