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Fee Levied on Homeowners to Pay for Storm Water Program : Simi Valley: The $7.15 assessment is expected to raise $265,000. Rest of money for federally mandated project would come from Sanitation District tax revenues.

March 23, 1994|SARA CATANIA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Simi Valley City Council has reluctantly agreed to levy a $7.15 fee on every homeowner in the city for a federally mandated program to keep storm water from carrying pollutants through the streets.

City staff had recommended that the council charge nearly $20 per household to cover the $733,000 annual cost of the city's Storm Water Management Program.

But the council voted instead to lower the charge from $8 to $7.15 a year, which would raise about $265,000. The rest of the cost of the program will be paid out of the city Sanitation District's share of property tax revenues.

The program, required by the federal Environmental Protection Agency to control the spreading of pollution during storms, is administered by Ventura County officials.

Individual cities are responsible for collecting fees and handing them over to the county.

A large part of the fee pays for maintenance and operation of five water-monitoring stations in the west county. Two additional stations are planned for Simi Valley along the Arroyo Simi later this year.

In agreeing to impose the tax, council members said they were concerned about charging residents for a program required by the federal government.

"It's very difficult to sit here and look at a mandated program and figure out how you're going to fleece the people to pay for it," Councilman Bill Davis said.

Councilwoman Sandi Webb suggested that a notice be enclosed with residents' annual property tax bills informing them that the $7.15 fee is paying for a federal program.

"You have to let people know," Webb said. "Here's this tax; go yell at your congressman."

In a related matter, Mayor Greg Stratton asked the council to consider dropping a $25 fee that the city would charge residents who need to prove that they have been removed from the city's flood zone.

Last week, a federal agency reduced the city's flood zone in size, allowing more than 1,200 homeowners to drop federally mandated flood insurance.

Some insurance companies and bankers require a notarized letter before they will agree to drop the insurance, Stratton said.

The city usually charges for such letters, to cover the cost of looking up a property and confirming its status.

But since the requests will be concentrated in a small area in the middle of the city, the workload for city staff should be minimal, he said.

"It's all going to be on one map," Stratton said. "And while we have the map out, it's very cheap to go over and look at it and figure out if you're in or out."

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