JOHNS CREEK, Ga. — In a 5-2 vote, the Johns Creek City Council passed a stormwater utility ordinance that has been years in the making.
The council spent the June 21 work session discussing best management practices and peppering Community Development Director Ben Song with questions. Officials then moved into the formal meeting ready to vote on the ordinance that would establish the stormwater utility, set rates and award credits, and define the city’s coverage.
A new 10 percent credit was added for those with “private stormwater systems,” an accommodation to concerns raised at the June 7 City Council meeting by several residents of gated-communities.
When the time came for a motion to vote on the ordinance, however, Councilman John Bradberry added an amendment to the proposal submitted by Song and staff.
Bradberry suggested a 50 percent credit during year one of the ordinance, rather than 40 percent. He reasoned that the increased credit would provide a “softer landing” for citizens who would not otherwise be expecting to get billed for their impervious surfaces and resultant stormwater output.
Other council members raised concerns that this change could confuse residents about expected payments in subsequent years and that the additional credit would provide less funding for improvements.
The anticipated funds from the ordinance fee, Bradberry said, could be supplemented by the stormwater accrual fund.
Mayor Mike Bodker expressed his support for a utility, but he objected to the lower rates, alerting council members that he would not support the motion.
Councilman Lenny Zaprowski then proposed an amendment for the higher rate to get Bodker on board, but the motion died without a second. Council members Stephanie Endres and Chris Coughlin said they were unable to do their “due diligence,” given the “on the fly” amendment and no data to consider the higher rate at that time.
Before calling for a vote on Bradberry’s motion, Councilwoman Erin Elwood shared her excitement for the passage of the utility.
“We have worked on this for the entire time I’ve been on council, I can’t imagine what it will be like to be on council when we’re not discussing stormwater,” Elwood said. “I think we’re spending $80,000 a year in repairs for stormwater and we’re going to be spending $1.5 million. That is gigantic. That is huge and I’m just very excited for this moment.”
Bodker and Zaprowski were the only nay votes. The mayor acknowledged before the end of the meeting that the council had made the right decision in passing the utility.
“I commend the council for two years of extremely hard work, diligent debate and a very successful end product,” Bodker said. “I want to thank our staff; they did a wonderful job listening to the council throughout this entire process…. And while I may not be in complete agreement, I am in complete agreement that the council did the right thing tonight.”