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Manatee County Commissioners express interest in revisiting stormwater utility fee

BRADENTON – Residents who live near Bowlees Creek and Pearce Drain relived stories of the disastrous flooding they experienced before Hurricane Irma during a Manatee County Commission workshop.

This rehashed a discussion of a long-sought stormwater utility fee that could help fund flood mitigation projects.

Engineers with the county’s public works department presented information on the history of the area and how much rain the watersheds received during the no-name storm at the end of August.

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Manatee County does not have a stormwater utility fee, which is one of the reasons why its taxes comparatively lower than others, commissioners said. The fee could be used to fund stormwater maintenance projects and create flood mitigation. It would be tied into ad valorem taxes.

The public works department is conducting studies on the Pearce Drain and Bowlees Creek that run in the tune of $1 million. Public works director Ron Schulhofer indicated that they were looking to expand the scope of the study to include flood event mitigation, which could increase the cost up to $600,000. The Southwest Florida Water Management District would help split the cost.

While commissioners couldn’t take a vote during the work session, they indicated a unified interest in discussing the possibility of implementing a stormwater utility fee.