The Battle Continues Over Augusta’s Stormwater Fee

AUGUSTA — The city’s stormwater fee is set to start on January 1st, 2016, but one group is hoping to stop that.

Former Commissioner Moses Todd started the organization “I Love Augusta” to repeal the $6.40 fee, but the Savannah Riverkeeper says if that happens, her organization will sue the city.

Todd is still working to get 10,200 signatures to repeal the fee.

If he does that, the stormwater fee will have to be put on a ballot for Augusta voters to approve.

“It’s too high. It’s not needed. When we look at the churches, the schools, and business and industry, it hurts them all. It hurts everybody and it kills jobs,” Todd said.

Todd says the funding for stormwater projects should come from SPLOST, not a monthly fee, but Tonya Bonitatibus says that money is needed to stop sewage from running into the river.

“The state standard is that you don’t dump sewage into the river. We have failed to meet that standard for a very long time. We are levied fines regularly by the EPD,” Bonitatibus said.

The Riverkeeper says the sewage is feeding invasive plants in the river that causes problems for boaters.

“When you have places that have combined sewers and stormwater drains, and every time it rains it flushes sewage out into the river. That’s fertilizer,” Bonitatibus said.

She says if Todd does find a way to Ax the Tax, her organization will be forced to sue for failure to follow the Clean Water Act.

“With this stormwater fee, the money goes where it’s supposed to go. It’s going into good solid programs that will make a difference and we will be in compliance with the law,” Todd said.

“I’m going to say to the Riverkeeper, we’re not going to try to repeal it, we are going to repeal it. As far as the lawsuit goes, we are not suing the city over this issue, we are repealing it. We’re not costing the city one dime,” Todd said.

He says that he will be doing a petition drive on election day this year.

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