By Leilani Haywood
Public Works asked the Public Works Committee to support a $375,000 rate study to be included in the city’s fiscal year 2019 budget. The study would assess the possibility of a storm water management utility and fee structure. Dena Mezger, director of Public Works, met with several companies, institutions and organizations from early Nov. 2017 to Feb. 2018 to discuss funding for storm water management.
Mezger and her staff made presentations to the Chamber’s Government Relations Committee, Downtown Community Improvement District Board of Directors, Downtown Lee’s Summit Main Street Board of Directors, and to various business and community representatives.
“The larger the business the heavier impact on them,” said Mezger. “I met with quite a few business groups of all kind of mixtures of folks. I basically took a summary of all that discussion held here over 2-1/2 years, here’s what we think is the best solution to that and quite frankly I got very little push back. Some of the folks said it’s about time we did this.”
Mezger said she did get negative push back.
“Not unexpectedly I got a little bit negative push back from the school district,” she said. “With as many paved areas the school district owns, three high schools, those parking lots and all the middle schools and elementary schools. It’s a concern for them and Longview Community College but that was not unexpected. I would expect somebody from a taxpayer supported organization to be a little concerned.”
She said that how tax exempt schools, faith-based organizations would be treated by the storm water utility or fee structure would need to be discussed.
Public Works Committee Chairman Rob Binney said he thought the rate study was a great idea but didn’t know if asking for $275,000 in light of the city’s budgetary challenges was the right time to ask.
“I think it’s the right idea, you have the rate study to validate what you want to ask for,” he said. “If not, this is something the next public works committee may take it up. This council is going to walk away knowing that at least we got the capital improvements out and we got $25 million set aside specifically for storm water.”
Councilwoman Diane Seif said she thought the request for the rate study should be forwarded to the Finance and Budget Committee for consideration.