Drainage district sends out notices of impending fees — The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel

Grand Valley Drainage District boundaries -- Robert Garcia The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel
Grand Valley Drainage District boundaries — Robert Garcia The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel

From The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Gary Harmon):

Several thousand Mesa County businesses and governments received notices this week of the bills they will get in January from the Grand Valley Drainage District.

Many of them promptly put in calls to the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce, which as it happens has scheduled a roundtable on Friday with the district about those very fees.

“It’s a job-killer,” chamber President Diane Schwenke said of the district’s plans.

Actually, said Tim Ryan, general manager for the district, the bills were tailored to be “palatable, but still generate revenue” the district needs to manage storm water.

While the chamber doesn’t question the need to control storm water filling the district’s pipes and ditches, the district’s plans for fees are an unnecessary damper on an already struggling local economy, Schwenke said.

While some businesses might be able to absorb the fees, for many others the costs will be significant, Schwenke said.

“They’re solving a problem by creating a problem,” Schwenke said.

The drainage district this summer put in motion plans to collect a $3-per-month base fee on the more than 44,000 tax parcels within its boundaries, and a $500-per-unit impact fee on new development. The $3 fee is based on parcels containing 2,500 square feet of impervious surface — which describes most of the affected residential parcels.

The fee schedule, however, makes no accommodation for large properties.

The biggest bill, for $14,000, will go to Halliburton, Ryan said, who noted that when the company received notification, it starting making arrangements for payment.

Many of the 100 most-substantial bills will go to companies with headquarters outside the county, so, “We’re actually bringing in outside money and hiring local people to do the construction,” Ryan said.

A major problem is that the $500 fee on new construction could damper business expansion, said Schwenke, who contends that the district should look at how other communities are collecting storm water fees.

The district’s fees, however, are minor in comparison with water, sewer and traffic fees, Ryan said.

It’s difficult to offer reduced fees to businesses or other entities with large, impervious surfaces, such as parking lots, because the size of the surfaces contributes to the runoff issues the district is trying to control, Ryan said.

The chamber is hosting a business roundtable from noon to 2 p.m. on Friday at Ute Water Conservancy District’s office, 2190 H 1/4 Road, to discuss the drainage district fees.

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