Berkeley County passes stormwater management fee

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. – A new Berkeley County storm water tariff will buy some time.

“One of the things we heard (in the public hearings), they wanted everybody to pay,” Berkeley County Councilmember Elaine Mauck said. “The $3.50 a month gets us a starting point. It may take a couple of years, because, you know, we have 325 square miles. It’s a lot of property to evaluate.”

Mauck said the fees levied to about 45,000 property owners will put money in the coffers to allow mapping of run-off areas. That she says, will eventually allow the county to assess higher fees from those creating a bigger impact.

“The $3.50 a month for this year – as I stated we’re trying to hold this thing down – is to evaluate to see what the cost is going to be. Because if you get all this extra money coming in from the big people that have the big parking lots, then the bill might go down.”

For now, anyone with an address for improved property in Berkeley County can expect to receive the bills in about 45 days; they amount to $3.50 a month whether the property is a quarter acre home site or a major industrial plant. Current customers of public water and sewer in the county will see the monthly rate tacked onto their bills. All others will receive a bill twice a year.

The new tariff will go toward making a map of the county to track run off areas and Mauck said eventually right-size the tariff so those who are creating more run-off would chip in more.

After three separate public hearings, the Berkeley County Council adopted the measure 4 to 0 yesterday. Those on Homestead Exemption will receive a 15 percent discount. The county received word that it could face penalties from the EPA if it didn’t come into compliance with its MS-4 agreement by December, according to Mauck.

The fee goes into effect in 45 days.

Story by Marsha Chwalik/Panhandle News Network