A divided Hilliard City Council couldn't agree Monday night on how to fund a proposed stormwater utility study, so members unanimously chose to table the issue until at least April.

A divided Hilliard City Council couldn't agree Monday night on how to fund a proposed stormwater utility study, so members unanimously chose to table the issue until at least April.

If funded, the study would eventually lead to the creation of a stormwater management utility.

While there was no disagreement about the need for the study, council members couldn't agree on how to pay for it.

Mayor Don Schonhardt's administration has proposed a $1 per building, per month fee to raise the money needed to fund the study, which would establish an ongoing stormwater utility fee based on an Equivalent Residential Unit (ERI) to be determined by the study.

While Council Vice President William Uttley supported that proposal, other council members said that because of the current economic climate, they could not support an additional fee on property owners.

Councilman Dan Nichter was among those opposed to charging residents to fund the study.

"My point is we need to find another source of funding to pay for the study," Nichter said. "It should not be put on the backs of the taxpayers to pay for a study like this. I would hope that we could table this and find another source to pay for this study."

Uttley said he was hesitant to postpone the study because he thinks there is a legitimate need for it. He said he was willing to take some time so council members could study the administration's funding idea or submit their own.

"I think there are some discussions that need to take place between council to get a better feeling and comfort level for the funding of the study," Councilman Al Iosue said. "That will give us time to discuss it a little bit more."

Council members unanimously agreed to table the issue until their first meeting in April.

City Engineer Clyde R. Seidle said a fee of $1 per building, per month would raise the funds needed for a consultant's study to create a stormwater management utility. He said that initial fee would amount to $12 per building, per year.

Based on an estimated 12,000 parcels of property in the city, Seidle had previously said the approximately $144,000 raised by the fee would be more than enough to fund the consultant's study that would establish long-term rates for the stormwater utility.

Seidle said the aging of the city's storm sewers and increasing development requiring new stormwater drainage systems within the city have had a direct effect on the city's stormwater drainage system, resulting in the need to direct an increasing amount of resources toward planning, design, construction and maintenance projects.

Seidle said the city of Columbus stormwater utility collects about $32 per single family residential unit.

Once the study determining the approximate annual financial need to service the stormwater utility is completed, a value per ERU would be established.

Seidle said the study would establish the ERU value for every commercial property in the city while all single-family homes would be considered one ERU.