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Davis Journal

Drainage fees need to be doubled to fund system maintenance, city officials say

Oct 09, 2023 02:18PM ● By Linda Petersen

Centerville City has a new drainage capital facilities plan but its findings are a mixed bag. Although Centerville has been able to complete some projects, maintenance costs are so close to revenues that it’s leaving an insufficient amount to complete needed projects over the next few years. To address the shortfall, the city needs to at least double the storm drain fees, Drainage Utility Operator Cameron Woodbury told city council in a work session Sept. 19.

Before Woodbury gave his bad news, City Engineer Kevin Campbell presented the updated drainage capital facilities plan to Mayor Clark Wilkinson and the city council. Partnering with Davis County and UDOT has enabled the city to  complete some projects, he said. For example, “On the Legacy Highway project, we had half a dozen culverts that we knew we could team that was probably several million dollars worth of infrastructure that we were able to have benefit the city as part of the West Davis corridor project,’’ he said.

The city was able to upgrade its water line infrastructure on Linda Loma Road in conjunction with a road construction project there, Deputy Public Works Director Dave Turner told the city council. “With that, then we upgraded and installed a new storm drain system through that area; it never had one before.”

The city also partnered with Davis County on  a project to improve the Deuel Creek Canyon debris dam,  he said. “We did a percentage, about 25 percent participation, on that debris dam,” he said. “And that one, the benefit to the community was over 160 people taken off of flood insurance. I think we ended up [saving residents] slightly over $100,000 a year. Residents were saving flood insurance based off data collected from the people at the time.”

The public works department has been trying to stretch its funds as far as it can, he said. “We’re trying to find all these alternatives so we aren’t just looking to come and say, we want to raise rates, we’re going to tear everything out, put all brand new, and there’s these new options. So we are trying to be the best stewards with the money that we can.”

That was the good news. Then it was Woodbury’s turn to deliver the bad news.

“Currently, our revenues are about $1.3 million from primarily drainage fees and subsurface fees,” he said. “We get some from impact fees and those are minimal. Our operations and including personnel and operating costs are about $1.2 million, which leaves us about $100,000. But currently we need about $700,000 to $800,000 a year to stay current with this plan to stay on the 30-year track. So we’re short about that much.”

At some point the city will probably need to double its drainage fees just to keep up, he said. The last time the city took this action was in 2016.

“Over 10 years the cost of construction has doubled,” Woodbury said. “And so now similar to the culinary water master plan, we have not added in any inflation to these cost estimates.”

No action was taken that evening but the response of city council members suggested they could see there might be no other option in the future. 

“I think that’s a difficult thing for people to bear,” Councilmember Gina Hirst said. “But you know, if we waited 10 years, I’m like, well, that’s the kind of thing that can happen if you haven’t raised it at all in 10 years. I don’t know that it’s completely surprising it needs to be doubled.” λ