Mansfield News

Council considers drainage fee increase

Mansfield city leaders are considering raising drainage fees to continue to fund projects and maintenance across the city.

Public works staff made a presentation at last week’s city council meeting about the need to fund future projects and proposed possible solutions. The council will have to vote to amend the city’s ordinance regarding drainage charges.

“We have drainage needs across the whole city,” stormwater manager Howard Redfearn said. “There are things in the city that need to be improved.”

Council members asked for more information by second reading, but favored a proposal that would see increased rates for residential and duplex units of $6.50 per household a month and mobile homes paying $5 a month. Multifamily units, commercial uses and industrial uses would pay $53.70 per acre a month. Schools and churches would pay an increased rate of $6.50 per acre a month.

The current structure, which was adopted in 2003, charges single family homes $.000959 per square footage of impervious coverage a month. The average home in Mansfield has about 3,650 square feet of impervious area equaling to about $3.50 a month. The drainage fees are separate from the water and sewer fees, but appear in the utility bill.

Redfearn said the fee increase is needed to update how multifamily residences are charged, restore fund balance from past projects, fund future projects and keep up with the cost of expenditures.

Residents are funding the highest percentage of the drainage fee fund at 53 percent, while contributing 37 percent of the city’s impervious coverage. The proposed changes the city council reviewed could spread that distribution more equally, especially with industrial, commercial, churches and schools, which currently receive a discounted rate.

“The majority of that difference is because we've been providing a discount to churches and schools,” Redfearn told the council.

Councilman Stephen Lindsey said the council must decide if residents should continue to subsidize the fund.

“A lot of people here paying a little bit higher on the residential standpoint to subsidize the activity of others — I’m not saying that’s a good thing or bad thing,” he said. “Do we want to subsidize at the time good industries and commercial and all of that coming here or the fact that we’ve got great schools so we are going to pay a little more?”

Redfearn said the drainage utility fees are used to fund drainage projects, drainage maintenance and flood studies. It also funds staff for day-to-day operations including bar ditch maintenance, debris removal in drainage ways, mosquito control and more.

The city also plans to use the funds for 18 needed projects that would cost an estimated $8.5 million.

“We have about $8 million worth of projects that we need to complete over the next five to eight years,” Public Works Director Steve Freeman said. “We need an increase. We can't go issue debt where we sit right now for another several years if we keep it at the pace that we’re at, including the growth.”

Redfearn said the projects aim to reduce flooding and fund clean up if there is more flooding, like earlier this year.

“Some of the projects that are property will increase developable land in some areas,” he said. “We know of properties at risk of flooding right now and being able to reduce that risk or get rid of that property.”

Councilman Larry Broseh wanted the staff to return with more details of how it would spend the additional funding. He expressed concerns about businesses’ rates doubling from $34.73 per acre a month to $53.70 per acre a month.

“This is $8.5 million that will probably fund $4 million of projects,” Broseh said. “I am not seeing what you're asking.”

Representatives from the Mansfield school district said the district already approved its budget and can manage an increase from $3.50 per acre a month to $5.75 or $6.50 per acre a month.

The council will need to review the item at two future readings before anything can become official. Redfearn said once approved the changes could go into effect right away.

Dustin L. Dangli, 817-390-7770

Twitter: @dustindangli