|If someone told you the government was going to tax
you for the rain that fell on your property, you'd probably not believe
it. You might think there's no way the government would tax rain. Well,
you would be wrong.
Last Monday, Lenoir City council voted to do just that. Beginning July 1st, most Lenoir City residents will be charged a $3.00 per month "Stormwater Tax" added to their utility bill. It will effect approximately 3,500 LC residents and businesses.
A little history on a stormwater tax is necessary. Back in 1977, the EPA issued the Clean Water Act which set in place the requirements that would eventually lead to the Tennessee Water Quality Control Act. The Tennessee act ultimately set in place regulations on most cities in the state to regulate their storm water run off that ultimately makes it's way into the streams, creeks and rivers. A certain number of these regulations required cities to take certain actions to make sure that no major pollutants got into the waterways. You see, Tennessee considers they own all bodies of water in the state therefore they can regulate them.
Knowing that the EPA and Tennessee regulations would eventually cost money, Tennessee legislators passed a law that does not require a rain tax be charged but does allow cities to pass such a tax. But included in the Tennessee law is an expressed requirement that any city that does pass the tax must include in the language of their rain tax ordinance the phrase, "THIS FEE HAS BEEN MANDATED BY CONGRESS" even though there is no federal mandate for the fee according to the Tennessee Attorney General. But state legislators didn't want to get blamed for the tax when local cities passed one. There is no limit to how high the tax can be nor how many times a city can raise it.
I have no idea how many steps Lenoir City has taken for stormwater management nor what costs are associated with it but beginning July 1, the city will be collecting about $126,000.00 per year from their residents to manage their stormwater.
The measure passed on first reading at last Monday (5/8/17) and will be up for the second and final reading at the next council meeting.