CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — While presenting a proposed city budget to the Corpus Christi City Council Tuesday, City Manager Peter Zanoni provided some details about a proposed stormwater fee that, if approved, would be imposed on residents and businesses.
He told council members that Corpus Christi is the only large city in Texas that doesn't have such a fee, and the money collected would go towards improvements to the city's stormwater system in hopes of reducing the amount of polluted runoff reaching Corpus Christi Bay and other bodies of water.
The proposal Zanoni laid out would charge for the amount of stormwater runoff properties are responsible for.
Currently, the city charges a stormwater fee within water bills based off the amount of water used.
“We do have a stormwater program, but it’s paid for with the water rate," Zanoni said. "And it’s not fair — unfair in terms of, if someone uses a lot of water they pay more for stormwater. But there’s no correlation.”
To determine how much runoff a property is responsible for, the city measures the amount of impervious area -- surfaces like concrete that don't allow rainwater to seep into the ground.
For home sites that have less than 3,000 square feet of impervious area, the monthly stormwater fee would be $4.59 next year. For 3,000 to 4,500 sq. ft., the fee would be $6.12, and over 4,500 would be $10.71.
The rates would rise slightly in each for the next four years. Zanoni believes the proposed fee is more fair than the current system based off water consumption.
“This utility is based across the state to be one where those entities that have a lot of concrete, a lot of rooftop, pay a little bit more than the person who has a lot of farmland or permeable property,” he said.
The stormwater proposal could be a topic of discussion at four city council budget workshops in August.
That month will also feature five community input sessions and public hearings on the topic. The city council could give initial approval to the new budget, which includes the stormwater fee, on August 31 and final approval on September 7.
So far, public opinion is mixed.
“(I'm) not really fond of it," Corpus Christi resident Veronica Bazan said. "(I) wouldn’t want to pay another fee.”
Zanoni says by removing the stormwater fee from water bills, they'll decrease, and the money saved will offset the standalone stormwater fee for many residents.
That has another resident more than willing to pay the fee.
“Yeah, if it benefits the whole community," Sridhar Anandula said.