July 3, 2012

Portland council OKs charging fees for runoff

Along with sewer bill increases, the fees will pay for city wastewater system improvements.

By Randy Billings rbillings@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

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"That won't prevent us from looking for legislative solutions in January," Brennan said.

Supporters of the proposal, including Friends of Casco Bay and the League of Young Voters, argued the fee was the most equitable way to distribute the financial burden.

Councilor Ed Suslovic said the task force chose not to fund the projects through the existing sewer fee because it's based on water usage and would not equally share the burden with parking lot owners and car dealerships, which produce a considerable amount of runoff but don't necessarily use much water.

Property tax increases were also ruled out because the city has so many nonprofit property owners, which don't pay property taxes, said Suslovic.

Residents said they were concerned about their sewer bills increasing to an average of $850 a year over the first five years.

While a greater reliance on the storm-water fee rather than sewer fees would reduce the impact on homeowners, Suslovic noted, Portland's storm-water fee would likely be among the highest in the nation.

"We feel we've gone as high as we can and still be in a legally defensible position," said Suslovic. "We felt the 50-50 (split between sewer and storm water) was the fairest way to go."

Staff Writer Randy Billings can be contacted at 791-6346 or at: rbillings@mainetoday.com

Twitter: @randybillings


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