Storm water tax opposition rising
By Jerry Bellune
Lexington County Council can call it a fee.
Most property owners see it as a tax.
And the timing could not have been much worse.
Chronicle readers are upset over a proposed storm water property tax.
Readers from as far south as Pelion, far west as Batesburg-Leesville and far east as Cayce and West Columbia have called or emailed us about the proporsed tax.
The county, they say, has put off repairing the system for years to avoid raising taxes.
Now, amid a pandemic, the council wants what they see as a punishing tax to repair its failing system.
One property owner was told his tax would be $13,000 a year.
The county says storm water problems cost an estimated $3 million a year.
To repair the damage, the county estimates it needs:
- $114 million for storm water system repairs.
- $76 million for community flooding problems.
County officials are considering the annual tax on all buildings including homes, businesses, churches and schools.
Property owners call the tax unfair.
It's not their property that causes the problem.
It's over-developed property mostly north of Lake Murray where the major problems are.
The tax, they say, would have to be paid even by property owners in areas where storm water is no problem.
The Town of Lexington has refused to participate in the tax.
Property owners' taxes will be based on an estimate of the additional storm water runoff it sends off its property.
This estimate is based on the size of rooftops, driveways, parking lots, etc. called "impervious areas."
Yet the runoff in many parts of the county never leaves their propoerty,
The average Lexington County home has about 2,800 square feet of impervious area.
This is termed the “equivalent residential unit” or ERU.
The estimated monthly storm water tax will be billed annually beginning in October 2021 at $4 - $8 a month per ERU.
County Council plans a public hearing at 6 pm Tuesday, Dec. 8, and a possible final vote Tuesday, Dec. 22.