Council will revisit storm water utility idea

(Posted Sept. 17, 2017)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

Some London city council members have expressed interest in revisiting the idea of instituting a storm water utility.

The utility would generate money for storm sewer upgrades and maintenance through fees charged to residents and business owners. Several years ago, city leaders created a framework for such a utility, but council did not approve it.

Issues arising from major flooding earlier this summer have brought the idea back to the forefront.

“This isn’t a money grab,” said Mayor Patrick Closser at the Sept. 7 city council meeting. “We just want to set ourselves up for success and to make sure we are taking care of our aging infrastructure which has been neglected a little bit.”

Council member Rex Castle said that he and other council members are interested in looking at what was proposed in the past. Closser suggested they schedule a work session. He said they “don’t need to reinvent the wheel,” but rather tweak it, especially where it concerns the utility’s impact on large businesses.

Closser noted that the city has a line in its budget for storm sewer expenses, and that council puts a small amount of money into it each year. However, the city does not have legislation in place for the format of a storm water utility and how the fees would be collected.

The storm water utility discussion followed Closser’s update on the city’s post-flood assessment and repair work.

He said the city is working with Madison Health to get an easement to clear out the creek on Jacqueline Drive.

The street department has cleaned out the catch basins on Graham Avenue. They also water jetted Graham to Stewart Avenue, Stewart to Riley, and Riley to Lincoln. In the process, they found some blockage. Cameras will be sent through the tile to pinpoint the problem. The city has secured a quote to fix the section from catch basin to catch basin.

In the Elm and High streets area, a 50 percent blockage was found and cleared. Evaluations of tile on Center Street/State Route 665 also are taking place.

Closser thanked Bill Long, the new street superintendent, and his staff for their work.

In other reports, Closser said the Madison County Mayors Committee met Sept. 6. Whitaker Wright, a grant writer and administrator, talked about Community Development Block Grants and other funding available to communities.

“When I started this group, I didn’t know how well received it would be, or if we would all be able to work together,” Closser said. “I can report that this group is one of the best things we have done. We have strengthened our partnerships and seem to be on the same page of the needs of the county and how to maximize funding and grant dollars.”

Closser also proclaimed September as National Recovery Month in London. The London Recovery Project is hosting several events, including “Beyond the Label,” an educational presentation about mental illness and addiction. The event is set for 6 to 8 p.m. Sept. 21 at First United Methodist Church, 52 N. Main St., London. The program is free and open to adults ages 18 and older.

The non-profit organization also will hold a candlelight vigil from 7 to 8 p.m. Sept. 30.  The vigil starts at the London Recovery Project drop-in center at 40 S. Walnut St. and proceeds on foot to the Madison County Courthouse via police escort. Participants are welcome to bring signs and banners in honor of loved ones impacted by substance abuse disorders.

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