GOSHEN -- Elkhart County officials approved funding Saturday for a review of the policy governing a controversial fee that property owners here pay to help keep rivers, streams and ditches clean.
Homeowners in Elkhart, Goshen, Bristol and Elkhart County's unincorporated areas must pay $15 per year to help fund a series of programs aimed at keeping stormwater and the contaminants it can carry out of county waterways. Business and industrial property owners have to pay $15 for every 2,800 square feet of impervious surface.
However, the review, with a price tag of $73,971, will take a look at some of the assumptions underlying the fee schedule with an eye to possible tweaks.
In particular, the consultants, AMEC of Indianapolis, will try to determine if 2,800 square feet is an appropriate base from which to assess fees.
They will also look into defining possible measures commercial and industrial property owners could independently take to reduce the threat of contaminated stormwater, thereby reducing the fees they must pay.
The stormwater fee, as it's known, has been a lightening rod of controversy among Elkhart County leaders ever since it was put into effect in 2007, as per federal clean water requirements. It generates around $2 million per year and some think that is excessive.
Not surprisingly, then, the council approved the plans to go ahead with the review in a rare split vote, 5-2.
The $73,971 cost is to be split by the county, Elkhart, Goshen and Bristol. The county's share totals around $32,000.