Town Must Establish Drainage Utility Fee, Council President Says

Crothersville Town Council President Lenvel ‘Butch’ Robinson has re-newed his call to establish a plan to improve storm water drainage in Crothersville.

“We need to get going on this. The rains we have experienced lately should leave no doubt in any residents’ mind that it has to be done,” he told the council and those in attendance at the July Town Council meeting.

In April he initiated a discussion to establish a storm water utility fee in town. The fund would allow town workers to install culverts where needed, clean ditches and drainageways to allow properties to properly drain after rains.

“There is away to help pay for improved drainage,” Robinson said earlier this year. “It is a way other communities such as Seymour and North Vernon have used.”

The Storm Water Utility Fee would be paid by all Crothersville water & sewer utility customers.

In April town engineer Brad Bender of FPBH said a residential fee would be established based on the average amount of impervious land (rooftops and paving). The fee would apply to non-residential customers as well.

“The fees are charged on individual parcels of land based on the amount of impervious area on the property (hard surface).  The amount of impervious land is used because it has been shown to be a good indicator of the amount of runoff that can result in surface water drainage issues,” said Bender.

Robinson said that the monthly fee to utility customers would be used by the town to purchase and install culverts and clean public drainageways to hasten surface water flow.

“Crothersville, as far back as I can remember, has always had a drainage problem,” councilman Bob Lyttle said in April. “Especially the east side of town.”

There, some residents over the years, filled in ditches to make mowing easier.

Councilwoman Danieta Foster said earlier this year that some of the drainage problems come from a hodge-podge of driveway drains.

“There are three neighbors on Moore Street that have three difference sizes and kinds of culverts. The one furthest downstream has the smallest diameter culvert,” she said.

Currently the town requires residents to purchase and install driveway culverts at their own expense.

The proposed fee would allow the town to purchase and install properly sized culverts uniformly as needed.

Robinson said that the monthly fee, which he proposed to be a part of the town’s utility bill, would be $3 a month for residences.

By comparison, North Vernon charges $3.75 per residence and the Town of Hope charges $3.50 per residence.

With a $3 monthly fee town residents would generate around $23,000 a year for drainage. Businesses, industries, the school and local churches would pay more on a proportional basis to what residences pay.

Robinson suggested that for non-residential property owners with roof and impervious land would pay $3 additional increments based on each additional 3,000 square feet.

If, for instance, the town approves a $3 monthly residential fee, and it is determined an average residence has 3,000 square feet of impervious surface, then a business or other non-residential entity with three times that hard surface could expect to pay $9 monthly. A property with 30,000 square feet of impervious surface would pay $30 per month.

A business with 3,000 square feet or less of impervious surface would pay $3, it was noted.

With the help of the Jackson County GIS, establishing impervious surface for each customer should be fairly simple, wastewater superintendent Mason Boicourt said.

Trena Carter of ARa, the town’s grant writing consultant, noted that to be eligible for future drainage grants, the state is now requiring communities to have a storm water utility fee in place. She said that communities with a monthly storm water fee of $3 or more fared more successfully in getting approval for grant assistance with drainage projects.

The town will hold a public hearing on establishing a proposed storm water utility fee at 6 p.m. at the next town council meeting on Aug. 2.