To the editor:
The most recent proposal by the City of Piqua that I reviewed for the dam project (Franz Pond/Echo Lake/Swift Run Lake modifications required by the State of Ohio) proposed funding the project solely by increasing all citizens stormwater fees. Could this project be funded with multiple funding sources? Yes, of course it could, and it absolutely should not be funded by increasing stormwater fees. Currently, residential stormwater fees are approximately $80 per year for citizens ($6.70 per month on your utility bill). If the dam project is funded only by stormwater fees, utility bills increase hundreds of dollars per year to homes and thousands of dollars per year to some businesses depending on which scenario is selected.
1. It is not appropriate to use stormwater funds for this project. Project options being considered which would fund “water levels in lakes remain the same” and “natural amenity to public” are not stormwater projects. These types of options are Park Benefits. Parks in Piqua are funded out of the General Funds. Recreation purposes in the dam project should be funded from the General Fund. Most of the estimated project cost for some of the “Scenarios” are not for stormwater purposes. It is not appropriate to fund these projects by increasing stormwater fees.
2. If project features are not stormwater related, the use of stormwater fees for this project is a regressive tax on the citizens and should not be permitted. The City should consider a new progressive tax for this project or pay for it out of the General Fund. In a progressive tax, low- and middle-income people (examples: retired seniors with only social security for income, veterans on disability income, low income “working poor” earning below the standard deductions, etc.) are spared the burden of paying for this project. There will be no increase in their utility bills to fund what is essentially lake views and recreation.
The City of Piqua has posted information on the web at https://piquadamstudy2022.com/overview I would encourage citizens to discuss the dam project with your Citizen Advisory Committee (names at the web link by scrolling down on the initial webpage) and City Commissioners and recommend no increase in stormwater fees.
Gary M. Koenig