The Mobile City Council’s administrative services committee recommended a proposed fee for stormwater maintenance move on to the full board for a vote on Tuesday.
The fee, which is essentially a tax on owners of residential and commercial property, would help the city pay for things like litter traps, water quality projects and anything else that helps it manage stormwater. Through a partnership with the Mobile County Revenue Commission office, the fee would be added to an owner’s annual property tax assessment.
The amounts to be charged, which were guided by state law, are as follows: owners of properties deemed residential by the Revenue Commission would pay $10 per year. Owners of properties deemed commercial by the Revenue Commission would pay a half cent per square foot, up to $3,000.
For commercial owners, that breaks down to $217.80 for a 1-acre parcel.
Lands used for agriculture and forestry are exempt under state law. Undeveloped land is also exempt. Railroads and utility companies are exempt as well. Owners of parcels that used to have a structure but no longer do are subject to the tax, Assistant City Attorney Florence Kessler said.
“We cannot change that,” she said.
Owners who wish to appeal the fee can do so by filing a complaint with City Clerk Lisa Lambert’s office. From there, the appeal will head to the engineering department for an assessment. If an owner is still not pleased, the fee can then be appealed to the City Council. A property owner has 60 days to appeal.
In all, the city projects the tax will raise $1.5 million for stormwater management issues. Five percent of the total will go to the Alabama Department of Environmental management and 1 percent will be kept by the Revenue Commission office, Kessler said.
If the item passes Tuesday the fee can be included on this year’s assessments, which go out Oct. 1, Kessler said.
Commercial Real Estate broker and developer Richard Weavil told councilors at the meeting he had a couple of suggestions moving forward. He said he feels like nonprofits and other tax-exempt organizations should be included. Weavil also argued that owners of multiple parcels should only be charged the $3,000 max once.