MILLEDGEVILLE, Ga. — The city of Milledgeville is thinking about charging homeowners and businesses a stormwater utility fee so they can better manage stormwater drains.
Few Milledgeville residents have more experience with stormwater drainage than Joe Tillman on Holly Hill Road. He's lived in his home for over a decade and experiences frequent runoff flooding.
"We got the first rain shower that lasted 45 minutes to an hour, and that completely flooded the yard," Tillman said.
He says his yard can hold ankle-deep water four to five times a year. When he went to the city to try and get it fixed, they said it was up to him to fix it. Tillman sued the city, but ultimately lost twice in superior and appellate court.
"There's nothing you can really do to the property without changing the storm drains to get it off of the property," Tillman said.
Now, the city may implement a new stormwater utility fee aimed at addressing an aging drainage system.
"The purpose of the stormwater utility is to assess the storm drains and pretty much prepare a plan to repair and replace those that are needed," said city planner, Melba Hilson-Butts.
Home- and business owners would pay a $3.95 tax per 3,400 square feet of impervious surfaces on a property that includes things like the driveway, the roof, or a business' parking lot.
Hilson-Butts said the money to fix issues now currently comes from the city's general fund and is handled by the public works department.
"The utility is a way to derive revenue that would be used specifically for this purpose," Hilson-Butts said.
A civil engineer evaluated Tillman's yard and determined he'd need a 54.5-foot ditch just to contain the water when it storms. The ditch would go from the edge of his property all the way up to his house and would still need about 14 feet.
Even if stormwater fees are implemented, the same civil engineer said Tillman likely won't get his problem fixed.
"The city's not going to allow it because I'm trying to divert stormwater, and typically, stormwater is the city's problem to address," Tillman said.
Milledgeville will hold an open house for people to learn more about the utility next Tuesday from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at City Hall at 119 East Hancock Street.