Council approves funding stormwater projects, fee hike

Government By Linda Trischitta, Editor Thursday, March 18, 2021

The town council approved an increase to the stormwater utility fee property owners pay and will go to the municipal bond market later this year to raise $15.5 million.

Bond proceeds will fund new capital improvements as part of the town’s ongoing effort to alleviate flooding.

“It’s the largest infrastructure investment
in town history,” Mayor Manny Cid told The Miami Laker on March 13.

The money raised from the bond sale is part of $54 million needed to alleviate all of the flooding issues in Miami Lakes, Town Manager Edward Pidermann said.

Flooding was identified as the number one problem for Miami Lakers, according to a recent survey of residents, though not all areas of town experiences flooding during South Florida’s heavy rainstorms.

The November 2020 rains brought by Tropical Storm Eta was a once-in-a- decade event and flooded much of the west side of town with high water that didn’t recede for several days.

During the March 9th town meeting, council members discussed whether it was fair to raise fees on residents who don’t experience flooded garages during storms.

While someone’s garage may not flood, streets in town may become impassable because of high water.

“Flooding is not tolerable at all,” Councilman Tony Fernandez said during the meeting. “A situation where we make some improvements, we impose a higher fee on the entire town and then we make improvements to whatever’s next.

“But we’re taxing the entire town for the next
 30 years on improvements that may or may not impact them,” Fernandez said. “That to me is not equitable.”

The council went ahead and voted 4-3 to raise the stormwater utility fee from $4.50 to $10.50; the date the increase takes effect was not announced.

An information meeting for residents will be held on a future date, Pidermann said.

Cid said improvements funded by bond proceeds could possibly pay for drainage solutions in the West Lake, Royal Oaks and Loch Lomond neighbor- hoods but that those decisions would come later this year.

Pidermann said issuance of the 30-year, municipal special revenue bonds will happen later this year.

On the first day the bonds are sold, there will likely be a retail period when they are offered to the public for a few hours before institutional investors begin buying, he said.

As phases of construction following the town’s Stormwater Master Plan are completed, the council may approve new bond sales
to pay for future capital improvements, Pidermann said.

 

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