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Concerns raised over proposed Clay County stormwater fee

Tax collector, residents say most wouldn't see benefits from annual fee

The Board of County Commissioners looking to create stormwater fee in unincorporated areas of Clay County.

GREEN COVE SPRINGS, Fla. – If you live in Clay County, you might have to pay a new annual fee to improve drainage and runoff issues.

Flooding remains a major problem in parts of Clay County after Hurricanes Matthew and Irma, and the Board of County Commissioners is looking at creating a stormwater fee for property owners in the unincorporated areas of the county. 

Residents got letters about it last week. 

If implemented, an additional $60 would appear on your next annual tax bill. The new stormwater tax would bring nearly $5 million to the county to address problems with runoff and drainage. 

But some residents, like Bill and Tonya Crook, who live off County Road 209, are concerned they'll pay the cost without seeing any benefit.

"We live on a private road. Clay County's not going to do anything on our private road, because we have to maintain them ourselves, so I don't see how this impact fee is going to help us," Bill Crook said.

The stormwater proposal comes on the heels of a discussion about a half-cent sales tax to fix the county's aging schools.

"The taxes keep coming. It just seems like we're expecting more in the mail every month or so,” Bill Crook said.

Tax Collector Jimmy Weeks is concerned about people with lower incomes. 

"There's a lot of people that are above the poverty level that will not be able to do that,” Weeks said. “Sixty dollars is big when you talk about people coming to me all that time that have an income of $600 to $900 or $1,000 and they're trying to figure out how they're going to pay their land taxes."

The fifth-generation Clay County resident said the stated "benefits" of the drafted stormwater ordinance would only impact certain areas. 

"Reducing flooding, protecting properties, saving money, preserving ingress and egress to all properties -- none of those apply to many people, so what I'm saying is I believe there's not a need to impact every person in the county for something that only affects a certain amount,” Weeks said.

County officials said earlier this year there are about $16 million in infrastructure needs that would be funded by the new fee, which will be based on the number of parcels a person has and not how large their parcels are.

There will be a public hearing on the issue at 5 p.m. Aug. 27 at the county administration building in Green Cove Springs.

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