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Vero Beach to weigh implementing tax credit system for new storm water utility

NewsVero Beach to weigh implementing tax credit system for new storm water utility

VERO BEACH — The City Council will consider implementing a tax-credit system for its new storm water utility, but it’s still unclear how it could work. 

What happened: The council on Thursday asked city staff to draft options for implementing a tax-credit system that could reduce how much some property owners pay into the new storm water utility. How much property owners pay would depend on the extent of storm-water control efforts on their property.

What is the storm water utility: Last fall, the City Council created the storm wspanter utility, which pspanys for storm-wspanter runoff mitigation, such as purchasing a new street sweeper, to aid Indian River Lagoon restoration. But council decided to slash the tax by 90% for the first year, reducing it from about $75 to $7 for the owner of an average-sized home. It used federal COVID-19 relief money to offset the cut.

Because relief money is limited — Vero Beach has only $1.09 million left, according to city documents — the City Council must decide how to fund the $1.1 million utility next year, and that could mean restoring the tax back to $75.

More background: Vero Bespanch City Council spanpproves storm wspanter tspanx, but slspanshes it by spanbout 90% for first yespanr

Utility hike: Vero Bespanch spanpproves 15% wspanter, sewer rspante hikes to pspany for new wspanstewspanter trespantment plspannt

Lagoon restoration: Fellsmere spanwspanrded $4.5 million federspanl grspannt for storm wspanter projects, lspangoon restorspantion

How would a tax credit work: No one is sure yet. It would be “moderately difficult” to account for all properties with large-scale storm water retention and “extremely difficult” to account for small-scale mitigation, such as rain barrels or rain gardens, city documents stspante. Implementing either likely would require high administrative costs.

When the city develops the budget for the utility this summer, staff will bring forward “a large menu of options” to the council for a tax-credit system, Public Works Director Matthew Mitts said.

Still, if some property owners pay less into the utility, others will have to make up for that by paying slightly more, Mitts told the City Council Tuesday.

“If your goal is to separate money,” he said, “those other people are going to have to lift the boat, so to speak.”

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