Takoma Park held a presentation on the proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2018, introducing new expenses and possible changes, including an increase to the city’s stormwater fee.
The plans are currently in a proposal stage and will go through public hearings and other stages.
There were areas of contention for some of the council members, such as a proposed increase to the stormwater fee from $55 to $92.
The fee, subject of a presentation to the council from Public Works Director Daryl Braithwaite in March, is supposed to raise enough to cover new regulations that the city must follow, as well as maintenance and new purchases.
“So we went from being ahead of schedule to being 30 percent of where we’re supposed to be. That’s a really big shift. We’re spending a lot of money on it, and we’re not getting the credit from the state that we deserve. So before I put money in something like this, I want to make sure that things we’re going to get credit for, we’re going to get credit for. So to me, there’s a lot more proof I need to see in the process to have confidence that we should increase the money,” said Council member Tim Male.
Male does not support the current proposal: He believes there should be further review on the increase before the stormwater fee is final and that the city does not receive enough credit for its accomplishments. Male does say he could support a smaller increase, however.
“I agree, if we are going to raise that, which most community members rightly perceive as a tax, I think we’re going to want to see actual, real, tangible examples as to why,” said Council member Rizzy Qureshi, adding onto Male’s comments.
City Manager Suzanne Ludlow noted that there is some more work to be done to ensure the fairness of the stormwater fee but that it is better implemented than not.
“In order to do some of the most basic things, we still need more money. Once you go through and think about this, if the stormwater fee is not increased, then it may need a contribution from the general fund,” said Ludlow.