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      Albany property owners to be billed for storm drainage use

      In 2007, the City of Albany hired a consultant to address issues with the drainage system in order to comply with both state and federally mandated requirements, which the city doesn't currently meet.

      "We have a combined sewer/storm water system in the older parts of Albany and that's illegal because in event of a heavy rainfall it'll wash sewer into the Flint River," said City Commissioner Roger Marietta.

      Though the city has been able to manage the issue, they could potentially be fined and on Tuesday, Albany City Commissioners passed a piece of legislation that will allow officials to create a better alternative.

      "This is the next step in the phase of creating a Storm Water Utility for Albany, and what we're doing now is establishing the legal framework that will govern the Storm Water Utility when it's created," said Albany Public Works Director Phil Roberson.

      The Storm Water Utility will be a fee-based system that will collect from every property owner in the city including businesses, government entities and residents.

      "One of the benefits of using a fee system that we're talking about is that it's more equitable than ad-valorem property tax because everybody pays their fair share. You pay for the burden that your particular property places on the city's drainage system as well as their storm water program," said Ecological Planning Group Water Resources Planner Courtney Reich.

      The fees will be calculated based on how much impervious surface or areas that can't be penetrated by water are on your land. The average homeowner will fall into one billing unit, which officials say will place the least burden on residential properties and add that they also plan to offer incentives for lower bills.

      "One of the things that we will help the city do is to create a credit program so if you are reducing the impact that your property has on the city's drainage system, you can apply for credits on your bill and reduce your monthly fee," said Reich.

      Officials hope to establish the fee system by November or December and say once they do, they can determine if the system will fund the new program entirely.

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