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City Council in Northampton expected to create task force to study funding for stormwater, flood control repairs

The Storm Water Advisory Taskforce would be a 12-member body charged with recommending specific ways the city might fund the work. The board is expected to study a host of options, including a dedicated fee for such repairs, continuing to fund repairs out of the city’s general fund or a combination.

The council meeting begins with public comment at 7 p.m. in the Council Chambers of the Puchalski Municipal Building.

The scope of the work is immense. A consultant’s report last year put needed stormwater and flood control repairs at $100 million over the next 20 years. Many of the repairs are unfunded federal mandates.

There are more immediate funding concerns. The city is facing up to $800,000 in federal mandates this fiscal year, a figure that could jump to $1.2 million next year.

Those mandates, in part, include upgrades to the 70-year-old flood control systems on both the Mill and Connecticut rivers and a new stormwater permit from the Environmental Protection Agency with more stringent requirements.

Money for stormwater and flood control fixes typically comes from the city’s general fund, but given the scope of the repairs on the horizon, officials would like to explore the creation of a stormwater and flood control fee.

This option would create a stable revenue source dedicated to funding system improvements.

At a forum last fall, Board of Public Works Chairman Terry Culhane spelled out other fee structure options, including a simple flat fee or setting a rate based on property values or square footage.

Another option would set the fee based on a property’s impermeable area. Properties with large parking lots and roofs, for example, would pay more.

The task force will include one member selected by each city councilor, as well as one representative each from the Board of Public Works, the Greater Northampton Area Chamber of Commerce and the nonprofit community.

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