City begins public input on proposed fee

NewsChannel 10

Amarillo, Texas - Amarillo city officials are looking to fix flooding problems, by looking to your wallet.

While putting a new fee into place doesn't require a vote from you, city commissioners still want your input, before they make that decision.

It's no secret Amarillo has a flooding problem.

Assistant Public Works Director Van Hagan explains, "Even as dry a year as we've had this year, we've received over 100 complaints throughout 2011."

But doing something more about that problem besides putting a Band-Aid on it, is sort of out of the question.

Consultant George Oswald says, "This area is not blessed with natural drainage to carry the water away, so all of the infrastructure basically has to be built. That's very expensive."

It's something the city really can't afford, without your help.

A charge of about $2.50 a month to raise the money needed, which comes out to a grand total of $4.5 million a year.

So the big question is, are the people of Amarillo willing to spend that much money on these projects?

That's what city officials are trying to find out. At tonight's meeting, many were unsure.

Hagan says, "The greatest advantage to the public is if the drainage systems are well maintained, it reduces the threat to their property as far as any kind of flooding that might back up into their property."

The city wants to make clear this is a user fee, not a tax, and its something they too will pay.

Even though the necessary 55 drainage projects will take years to complete, you will see some immediate results from the fee.

Oswald explains, "There will be a dedicated operations and maintenance program, which the city has never had. Immediately the citizens will see better cleaning of the drainage system and a lot of these localized problems will be taken care of much faster."

If you would like to share your thoughts, Thursday night is the next opportunity to do so. Another public meeting is being held at Tradewinds Elementary at 7 PM.