Readers in Columbia County may have missed the recent news items from North Augusta telling citizens about their new stormwater fee.
Coverage of the issue has been sparse. The city recently enacted the fee, charging homeowners $4 per month, and $3 to apartment residents. Businesses will pay slightly more. North Augustas fee goes into effect in July, and the funds will be used to meet the citys $500,000 per year obligation to comply with Environmental Protection Agency runoff rules.
Monday, the city will hold its first public hearing on the issue to tell residents whats coming. If Columbia Countys experience is any indication, North Augusta officials had better wear flak jackets.
But heres a prediction: North Augustas experience wont be anything like Columbia Countys debacle. Mondays meeting, well wager, will be nothing more than an information session for city residents who will take the fee in stride - even though there has been little coverage or public comment on the issue before now.
What a contrast. In Columbia County, the stormwater fee was bandied about for years, with hundreds of mentions in the media. Most residents got sick of the issue and ignored it until a sample bill came in the mail, and then critics came out like frogs after rain. Those critics have finally quieted, even though a lawsuit against the fee is still tangled in court.
North Augusta will likely have better luck with their effort. Their fee is simpler, and their methods more low-key. If their reception is positive, you can bet Columbia County officials will get the message: Sometimes you can, indeed, talk about something too much.
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