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City to research stormwater management fee

LOCK HAVEN — Lock Haven’s stormwater management infrastructure has seen better days.

City Public Works Director Anthony “Tony” Stopper emphasized this point while presenting council with information about the benefits of a stormwater management fee.

“Viewing the APWA — American Public Works Association — a lot of municipalities are having issues maintaining their stormwater infrastructure,” Stopper said.

The topic was brought up following discussion of the proposed Sunset Pines stormwater management construction. The project would take 8 to 10 years, according to City Manager Gregory Wilson and see a system built entirely from scratch in the development.

Stopper said Sunset Pines isn’t the only area facing issues with stormwater. “It’s all across the city,” he said.

Within the city, sinking or unsettled curbs, cracking roadways, damaged pipes caused by water run off are some of the issues the public works department has been dealing with.

“(Run off) is our biggest problem with flooding and because we’re protected by a levee it’s our job to get the water out of the city as quickly as possible so we don’t internally flood. To do that we need proper water storm infrastructure,” Stopper said.

Currently the city uses liquid fuel funding from its General Fund to pay for projects. Due to liquid fuels being used for other projects it limits how much work can be completed on stormwater infrastructure, Stopper said.

“The stormwater fee always guarantees reserve money so that way we can always build that fund up and we can apply it with our CIP — Capital Improvement Plan,” Stopper said.

The stormwater management fee would be based on impervious area on both commercial and residential property meaning roofs, driveways, patios and sidewalks, he said.

Stopper said his department has started the process of calculating all the properties within the city but would need city engineer Gwin Dobson and Foreman to assist in gathering more information and determining a cost of the fee.

A stormwater fee could be a benefit to the city, Stopper said.

Not only could the city mill and pave roadways, crews could replace the curbing, inlets and stormwater pipes to alleviate issues, he continued.

Wilson told council that aging stormwater infrastructure is a common problem throughout the commonwealth. He noted that stormwater management is a large expenditure in the General Fund budget, specifically in liquid fuels. He used Sunset Pines’s proposed project as an example.

“When we’re talking about Sunset Pines project the next $1.7 million worth of liquid fuels is going towards that project. That’s many years worth,” Wilson said. “The money will no longer be available in liquid fuels to be be able to do the curb and stormwater in the city.”

Wilson said the water that travels from impervious property such as a paved driveway is pushed into the city street, through its stormwater system and into the Susquehanna River or Bald Eagle Creek.

“Those pipes are very old and they are no longer viable products and are collapsing on a regular basis throughout our community,” he said.

He noted that curbing throughout the city, installed during former City Manager Richard Marcinkevage 40-year run as manager also need replaced in multiple places.

“A lot of those curbs have settled, they’re broken, they’re lower in some places than the pieces of curbing next to them,” he said.

Wilson said the city needs to find a long-term and fair solution to help improve the city’s aging infrastructure without raising taxes.

The fee would be a real assessment of each parcel to determine the amount of pervious and impervious structures on each property.

Wilson said Stopper was asking that council permit public works to engage with Gwin Dobson and Foreman to review the information and determine if a stormwater management fee would be a potential solution as well as search for other alternatives.

Council unanimously approved the request with a motion made by Council William “Bill” Mincer and seconded by Councilman Richard Morris.

All members of council were present for the meeting held Monday night via livestream on the city’s Facebook and YouTube pages.

Council will meet for the final time in November on Monday, Nov. 23 at 7 p.m. via livestream.

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