Business Owners Not Happy With Jackson's New Storm Water Fee

By: Alex Goldsmith Email
By: Alex Goldsmith Email

A packed house of business owners lined up in Jackson's City Hall to see how much they're going to have to pay in storm water fees every month.

Jackson passed an ordinance in January requiring property owners to pay the city for the water that runs off of their property. That extra cost isn't putting smiles on the faces of business owners.

Phil Wrzesinski is going to pay more than $100 a month for his toy store.

"It's something we're going to have to find in our budget," said Wrzesinski, who owns Toy House in downtown Jackson. "Where are we going to find the extra $1300 to $1400 a year? Where's that going to come from?"

Businesses like Toy House get hit especially hard by the new ordinance becuase of their large asphalt parking lots.

That's because the new fee is based on both the size of the parcel and the type of land on that parcel. More asphalt on a property means more runoff because it doesn't absorb water like grass or soil does. The more runoff, the more they have to pay.

Jackson city manager Warren Renando says the fee is necessary to help the city recoup the costs of cleaning and repairing its storm water system. And because it's a fee and not a tax, everyone pays including churches, hospitals, schools and the city. Allegiance Health's bill is expected to be the most expensive in Jackson.

"It may not be popular but it's fair," Renando told WILX.

But business owners are concerned that the added cost will keep other businesses from setting up shop.

"This is going to make people say, 'Boy I could be just inside the city or just outside of the city where all of the traffic is,' said Wrzesinski. "If I want to be successful downtown we need more... more traffic, more businesses downtown."

Individual homeowners will pay $32 a year for their share of the fee.

Renando says any property owner can reduce their fee by simply reducing their runoff. Using retention basins, rain gardens or draining runoff straight into grassy areas could save businesses as much as 50 percent and homeowners by as much as 25 percent.

The first bills will start going out April 27.

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