TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Roughly 300,000 residential and commercial properties in unincorporated Hillsborough County could see a stormwater assessment change, and for many that change will mean a substantial fee increase.
The proposed change still needs to be approved by the Board of County Commissioners but is already prompting a flood of complaints from potentially affected property owners.
The stormwater assessment is an annual payment for flood control and water quality improvements. Currently it’s a flat rate paid when property owners pay their property taxes.
The county is proposing a sliding scale based on a home’s square footage. Below is the potential fee schedule.
“The way they calculate it is totally unfair and illogical,” Mary Chadwick said, who lives on a six acre lot outside Wimauma. A letter sent to her by the county showed her stormwater fee would go from $42 to $141, a 230 percent increase. It also showed the eventual fee could spike up to just under $300.
“That’s outrageous,” she said.
Chadwick believes her acreage absorbs storm water and therefore the county doesn’t have to deal with it. She thinks the county needs to take that into consideration for larger properties like hers.
“Calculate the size of the lot, subtract the footprint of the house, and then base the actual assessment on how much permeable land there is,” Chadwick proposed.
Chadwick’s neighbor Mike Gebbia also isn’t pleased. He lives on a private road and says he already does not reap the benefits from the stormwater fee collection.
“They don’t maintain the ditch, they don’t mow the grass, they don’t do anything,” Gebbia explained. “My gut reaction was I’m goin to be robbed at gunpoint by the county.”
Hillsborough County sent 8 On Your Side the following statement regarding the proposed change:
In an effort to cultivate a sustainable and financially responsible stormwater management system, with a focus on asset preservation and minimizing flood risk, the County is proposing increased levels of service for operations and maintenance, asset preservation and replacement, flood protection, water quality and hazards mitigation, to meet the long-term needs of the system and the residents of Hillsborough County. A sustainable level of funding will allow the County to invest in preventive maintenance and improvements to reduce emergency repairs and system failures.
A public hearing on the proposal is scheduled for 10 a.m., August 7 at County Center on Kennedy Boulevard in Tampa.
Those who cannot attend can also mail feedback to: Stormwater Management Assessment Objections, Stormwater Management, Hillsborough County, P.O. Box 1110, Tampa, FL 33601