Storm water rate set

It will cost most Carson City residents around $3.43 a month to fund the city's planned storm drainage system.

However, the charge will be higher -- in some cases in the thousands of dollars -- for businesses with lots of buildings and asphalt in their parking lots.

After a year of work to set the rate, city officials finally put a dollar number on how much they'll charge residents for a $20 million storm drainage system. It will cost between between $1.3 million and $1.4 million a year to fund construction of the storm drainage system in 12 to 18 years. Plans have been ongoing for the utility since the 1997 flood.

The $3.43 charge defines the basic unit of storm drain charges, one home with roughly 3,600-square feet of impervious surface from the patio to the driveway. Business will be charged $3.43 per 3,600-square-feet of space covered with concrete, buildings and asphalt. The system creates a "level playing field" to charge all entities, said John Givlin, storm drainage project manager.

Givlin said it took consultants three months "of serious work" to identify and map all area in Carson that could be charged the storm drain fee. The city's consultant has some properties left to add into the system, so Givlin said the basic cost will likely be a little less.

However, for large property owners like the school district, the costs will add up when the utility begins charging at the beginning of next year.

Most commercial properties are equivalent to between two and 10 homes, Givlin said. The Carson City Airport, though, has facilities equaling around 800 houses -- a monthly charge of over $2,700. Carson High School equals 346 homes, or almost $1,200 a month. With multiple properties around the city, the school district will take a hard hit from the storm utility. However, Givlin said, the utility set-up also includes a credit program where businesses can trade the costs of storm drainage. For most that may mean building detention and retention basins as part of their facilities. For entities like the school district, that could mean trading storm fees for educational programs on the importance of clean water, a requirement the city must meet under the Clean Water Act.

The act also requires the city produce a maintenance schedule for its drainage system, and that the system is designed to make sure clean water, not just water, gets through it. Givlin said the utility will operate with existing city staff except for extra maintenance personnel, which will be required to satisfy the Clean Water Act as well as to allow the city to take over maintenance of around $8 million in drainage improvements the state is building with the Carson City freeway.

The storm plan is expected to fix existing problems as well as create a system capable of handling flood waters similar to those of the 1997 flood. An added benefit of the system, Givlin said, is a decrease in flood insurance for many areas in Carson.

"To have a better, stronger system, overall, for the community there are benefits that come out of it," Givlin said.

Carson supervisors will have to approve the rate -- after Givlin gets the storm drainage advisory committee to first approve it. The committee is without a chairman right now, and Givlin said for two months, he's been unable to get a quorum of the committee to approve the document. They're expected to review the storm rates in July.


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