Drainage utility fee on the horizon

Drainage utility fee on the horizon

NewsChannel 10

Amarillo, Texas - The City of Amarillo is one step closer to solving the area's flooding problems.

It's something city officials have been considering for months, but after a unanimous preliminary vote this evening, it looks like the drainage utility fee will become a reality.

A new tax is on the horizon for Amarillo residents and business owners, and it's all in the name of your safety.

Public Works Director Michael Rice says, "We do have flash flooding which occurs. People are aware of some of the streets that are inundated. It affects the ability for emergency operations to take place, and we have had people who have died unfortunately in Amarillo because of the flooding."

It's a tax that will generate about $4 million each year, and will go strictly toward the $66 million worth of projects needed to fix the city's drainage system in desperate need of repair.

It's a price tag too large for the city's wallet, which is why they're turning to yours.

Mayor Paul Harpole explains, "The tone is that shared cost is the best cost, that everybody is inputting water into the system. It has to be dealt with equitably by everybody that lives in the city."

The fee will vary from property to property, but all Amarillo homes and businesses will be appraised based on their amount of impervious surfaces, areas like rooftops, driveways, and parking lots.

An average home will pay $2.51 a month.

The fees for commercial properties are calculated the same way, but will be much higher.

Rice explains, "If you have a piece of property that has 28,000 square feet of impervious area, it would be worth 10 of those ERU's, or equivalent residential units. If you are 10 units, than you pay 10 times that $2.51, or $25.10 every month."

While virtually everyone will pay, there are a few who are won't, like Amarillo College.

City officials say the fee will last for at least the next five years, but they don't anticipate it rising.

City officials will take a second and final vote on the matter at next week's commission meeting.