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Hillsborough County proposes increase in stormwater fee to deal with flooding

Posted at 5:49 PM, Aug 19, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-05 10:57:18-04

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — Ebony Jacobs has gotten used to her unwanted waterfront property.

"You can kind of stand here but if you take a few steps out your ankle deep,” she said, as she stands in her front yard. “The street floods severely, to the point where I can’t even get out of my driveway.”

She’s one of several folks that live near U.S. 301 and Causeway Boulevard that deal with the washout every time it rains -- and the guests that come with standing water.

"You go out there and the mosquitoes will eat your legs up,” said Sineny Debusk.

Sidney Debusk says the flooded waters come from land behind the neighborhood. He says the county and TECO have fought for years about which agency is responsible for repairing a rusted culvert.

“If that was open all this ditch would drain into that storm drain but it can’t drain because it’s blocked,” he said.

The county told ABC Action News they are looking into what can be done about that issue.

It has gotten so bad folks resort to kayaks instead of cars.

"I keep rain boots in my trunk so I can just walk across the street -- I’ve done that,” Jacobs said.

County officials say over the last few weeks, with all the rain, they've had to install 18 to 20 temporary pumping stations to deal with all the water.

"The drain systems fill up, the natural ponds and wetlands all get full of water and they don’t have time to recover with these intense rains,” said John Lyons, the Public Works Administrator for Hillsborough County.

But the county says funding to clean out drains and pipes and replace aging infrastructure is really low.

It’s why the county suggested a stormwater fee hike for nearly 300,000 property owners in unincorporated Hillsborough County based on the size of their home.

"A medium size home that pays $42 today would pay somewhere around $100 annually,” Lyons said.

The county is holding a series of public meetings to help answer any questions residents may have.

Property owners are invited to a community open house to learn about the proposed changes to how fees are assessed and the annual fee amount. The same information will be provided at all the events. Hillsborough County staff will be available from 4 to 7 p.m. during the events at the following locations:

August 19 - Plant City Community Resource Center, 307 N. Michigan Ave. in Plant City
August 20 - Jimmie B. Keel Library, 2902 W. Bearss Ave. in Tampa
August 22 - Town N' Country Library, 7606 Paula Drive in Tampa
August 26 - Emanuel P. Johnson Recreation Center, 5855 S. 78th St. in Tampa
August 27 - Southshore Regional Service Center, 410 30th St. SE in Ruskin
August 29 - Seffner-Mango Branch Library, 410 N. Kingsway Road in Seffner
A public hearing to consider the fee increase is scheduled for Thursday, September 5, 2019, at 10 a.m. in the 2nd floor Board Room at Frederick B. Karl County Center, 601 E. Kennedy Blvd. in downtown Tampa. Any changes approved by the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners at this hearing would be reflected on the 2019 property tax notices.

More information about the proposed Stormwater Fee is available online or by calling (813) 635-5400.