See http://www.polk-county.net/subpage.aspx?menu_id=467&nav=res&id=34639 for more info
In response to federal and state mandates for local governments to improve the quality of stormwater runoff, on June 26th, 2012 Polk County adopted a Stormwater Assessment Ordinance and Initial Assessment Rate Resolution. This established the preliminary rates to be assessed to lands in only the unincorporated Polk County. No one within a city limit will be affected. This action has resulted in many questions as to why this is needed.
Stormwater runoff (from rain falling on our streets, homes and businesses that cannot be absorbed into the ground) has been shown to be a major source of pollution to lakes and rivers. This water picks up pollutants as it flows to our stormwater drainage systems. Our stormwater drainage system is regulated and permitted by the State of Florida and the Federal Government (the Clean Water Act). Last year, Polk County was issued a new stormwater permit from the state which mandates major expenditures of monies to monitor, clean up and maintain the drainage system. This permit requires Polk County to develop programs to minimize the impacts of lawn fertilizers, educate the public to clean up after their pets, implement street sweeping, chemically analyze our stormwater runoff for pollutant levels and develop and implement a plan to clean up the stormwater flows from our roadways and drainage systems. This will ultimately require Polk County to construct such things as grassed swales, retention ponds and catch basin screens.
Currently, Polk County maintains over 450 stormwater outlets that lead to lakes and streams. Monitoring and cleaning up these outfalls will not be easy or cheap and will take decades. This unfunded mandate will cost us millions of dollars each year. Our goal is to accomplish this as efficiently and effectively as possible, but there is no getting around the expense.
By adopting a Stormwater Assessment, we have chosen the path already taken by hundreds of other local governments across the country, including 13 of our municipalities here in Polk County. With an assessment, property owners pay based upon the amount of impervious area (i.e. roof tops, parking lots, etc. where water cannot seep into the ground) on their land. The more impervious area on a piece of land; the more opportunity for runoff to leave the site and flow to a nearby lake or stream. The Stormwater Assessment will be collected annually on the property tax bill and monies collected from it can only be used for the purpose of addressing the County stormwater needs.
We understand that some developments and commercial properties have already constructed and maintain stormwater systems to retain and treat either a portion or all of their stormwater runoff. For those properties (through their Community Development District, Home Owners Association or business), a mitigation credit may be awarded to reduce their assessments. In addition, agricultural properties that meet certain State guidelines for managing stormwater runoff will be exempt from the assessment.
Details on the Stormwater Assessment Fee and how to apply for a mitigation credit will be forthcoming in the very near future. In the meantime, should you have any questions regarding this issue, please call our Parks & Natural Resources Office at (863) 534-7377.
Mary Beth Henry
Small Farms/Pesticide Licensing
Extension Agent II, UF/IFAS Extension Polk County
1702 HWY. 17 S, Bartow, FL 33830 T: 863.519.8677 x 110 F: 863.534.0001
No Farmers No Food
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