Pickerington residents will pay $51 for stormwater fees in 2012 and $54 in 2013 after officials approved rate increases this week.

Pickerington residents will pay $51 for stormwater fees in 2012 and $54 in 2013 after officials approved rate increases this week.

Pickerington City Council voted 5-1 on Nov. 15 to implement a 6-percent increase to residential and commercial stormwater fees in 2012.

The move means monthly residential fees will increase next year from the current rate of $4 to $4.25.

In 2013, the residential fees will increase to $4.50 per month.

Commercial fees also will increase, but rates for individual businesses will differ.

Single-family residential properties each are assigned one equivalent residential unit (ERU) to measure stormwater runoff. An ERU is the equivalent of 2,530 square feet.

Commercial properties’ estimated runoff is based on a property’s impervious area, and is calculated by taking the total impervious area divided by 2,530 to determine the total ERUs for that particular property.

The increases were approved following a recommendation by Pickerington city manager Bill Vance and city engineer Greg Bachman.

Council passed the final reading of legislation without comment, but in recent weeks, Vance and Bachman have said the increases are necessary to help the city fund infrastructure improvements to enhance stormwater drainage, thereby reducing local flooding.

One such project likely would occur on a portion of the city’s busiest thoroughfare, state Route 256, which city officials said has seen flooding and is in danger of extensive damage or collapse if stormwater upgrades are not made.

That project is estimated to cost $350,000.

“Over the last few years — and most notably in the past six or seven months — stormwater situations have been brought to staff’s and the (Pickerington City Council) planning, projects and services committee’s attention where there are verified opportunities for the city to provide improvement assistance, but the funds to do so are in short supply,” Vance said last month. “In direct relation to this fact, the city engineer and city manager are proposing a 6-percent stormwater fee increase to get more aggressive with stormwater improvements citywide.”

Pickerington last raised stormwater fees two years ago. However, Bachman recently noted the new fees still will be lower than those in many surrounding communities, which he said average $5 per month.

Council’s lone opponent to the increases was Cristie Hammond, who said the way they are calculated for commercial properties could cause hardships for some local businesses. She said she might have supported the increases if they would have had less impact on those businesses.

“(Businesses) bear a fairly heavy burden with that already,” Hammond said. “I think it could become a burden for some of the businesses.”

Councilman Gavin Blair also previously opposed the fee increases because he didn’t support raising them for commercial properties.

However, he was out of town on Nov. 15 and couldn’t weigh in on the legislation’s final reading.