Lagoon advocates want to see the City of Vero Beach step up efforts to better filter storm water runoff. To address the Lagoon crisis, Councilman Richard Winger believes it is time for Vero Beach to follow the example of most surrounding municipalities along the Lagoon. Nearly all of them have establishing a source of dedicated funding for maintaining and expanding storm water filtration.
At its 9:30 meeting tomorrow morning, the City Council will vote on a proposal to begin assessing a storm water system user fee on property owners. The proposed fee is estimated to average $5 a month per property, and is expected to raise just under $1 million a year. An alternative proposal would have the City increase it property tax to pay for handling storm water runoff. This alternative approach, Winger points out, would leave all non-profits and governments exempt from helping to pay the cost of removing and cleaning the runoff from their properties.
Limited-government advocates, chief among them Councilman Harry Howle, oppose Winger’s proposal, because, they says, it will lead to more government. Echoing Howle, Press Journal columnist Larry Reasman again yesterday repeated the claim that Winger’s proposal will create a “new utility,” as he put it in his front page column. Winger counters that what he is proposing, and what the Council is set to vote on tomorrow, is a user fee to fund improvements to and expansion of the City’s network of canals, culverts and filters. The proposal to be voted on tomorrow restricts the use of the money to be raised. It cannot be use to hire employees, or to establish “a new utility,” as Resiman and Howle claim.
Both sides are bracing for what will likely be a long and spirited debate tomorrow.