JOHNS CREEK, Ga. — The Johns Creek City Council has completed the last component to establishing the city’s first stormwater utility.
The council reached consensus May 10 to partner with Fulton County for stormwater utility billing.
Stormwater has been an ongoing issue in Johns Creek, consistently at the forefront of the city’s agenda. Roughly 80 percent of the city’s stormwater management systems were installed before current best practice methods. As a result, the city has seen erosion, flooding and contamination of rivers and lakes.
The City Council identified the expansion of the city’s role in care and maintenance of the stormwater system as one of its strategic priorities. Throughout work sessions in 2020 and 2021, the council reached consensus to focus this effort by creating a stormwater utility, where all property owners would pay into a dedicated stormwater utility fund based on an objective rate structure and billing fee dependent on their property’s calculated runoff area.
Partnering with Fulton County for billing posed many benefits, including a lower cost, lower payment delinquency rate and an established billing process.
The city reviewed billing methods in surrounding cities and found that the majority distribute and collect stormwater utility fees through their county either as part of annual property tax bills or a public utility bill.
Another factor was cost. Billing with Fulton County will cost the city approximately $46,000 annually. By comparison, the City of Roswell uses standalone billing through a private vendor at an annual cost of $120,000.
However, Fulton County will issue the billing annually, not monthly.
Community Development Director Ben Song assured council members that this was to keep it cost effective and would be done similarly to property tax collection.
Councilwoman Stephanie Endres asked for clarification on whether the Fulton County Tax Commissioner would receive a cut from the utility as he does with other tax billings.
Mayor Mike Bodker said he thinks those days are over, because of recent legislation barring commissioners from contracts where they would be directly compensated.
Councilman Lenny Zaprowski echoed Endres' concerns about the commissioner taking some of the money, but he said that whether he makes money or not, this was the best option for the city. However, Zaprowski continued to express that his stance on the stormwater utility was that the residents deserve more of a say.
“I'll just say, in general, I'm not in favor of the stormwater without going to the public a little bit more than we're doing,” he said. “This is the best option for the city… I’m just not where you all are with stormwater quite yet.”
Partnering with Fulton County checked the last box on the new utility. An official ordinance, rate structure and credit manual are expected to be considered by the city council later this month. The city’s website www.johnscreekga.gov features a section for questions and updates. There is also a dedicated email, firstname.lastname@example.org, for questions and concerns.