Okaloosa could move closer to forming a stormwater utility

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The possible stormwater utility might be designated as an enterprise fund and be funded at least in part with stormwater fees charged to property owners in the unincorporated area.

TONY JUDNICH @Tonyjnwfdn

SHALIMAR — The Okaloosa County Commission on Tuesday will be asked to set a public hearing at which it would consider the first reading of an ordinance to establish a stormwater utility.

With the commission’s approval, the hearing would be conducted on April 17 at the County Administration Building in Shalimar, which is the site of Tuesday’s meeting. Tuesday’s session starts at 8:30 a.m.

The possible stormwater utility might be designated as an enterprise fund and be funded at least in part with stormwater fees charged to property owners in the unincorporated area.

The possible fees could be a part of those owners’ annual property tax bills and be based on a property’s total square footage of impervious surfaces, such as roofs, driveways, parking lots and sidewalks that do not absorb rainwater.

County Public Works Director Jason Autrey has said that revenue generated by the fees could help the county address more than $70 million worth of unfunded stormwater infrastructure repairs.

When the commission discussed the possible utility last fall, Autrey reported that the county spends $1.3 million annually on such repairs. At that rate, it would take the county more than 50 years to make all of the currently needed repairs to pumps, drainage pipes and other types of stormwater infrastructure.

Most of the funding for the county’s stormwater division comes from revenue generated by a Municipal Service Taxing Unit assessment charged to property owners. Supplemental funding comes from gas tax and property tax revenue.

County officials have discussed reducing the MSTU assessment, which is based on property values and meant to pay for park projects, if a stormwater utility and utility fee are implemented.

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