BERKELEY COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - After several businesses and church leaders complained about sharp hikes in stormwater utility fees, Berkeley County Council agreed to consider implementing a credit policy to help mitigate costs.
Berkeley County announced in September that people could expect a new stormwater utility fee on their tax bills, which they received in October.
“The amendment will use an impervious surface model to calculate the annual stormwater utility fee,” a county spokesperson said in a news release. “Impervious surface area is the most common stormwater utility rate method throughout the United States and it is the most effective indicator of the amount and quality of stormwater runoff that a specific land use contributes to the system.”
Because of the change, several church officials complained their fees rose astronomically.
Henry Nix, who works for Harbour Lake Baptist Church in Goose Creek, said the church’s stormwater utility fee increased from $72 in 2017 to $756 in 2018.
“So, that’s about a 1,000 percent increase,” Nix said. “We were quite shocked when we got this bill.”
And officials with Crowfield Baptist Church have complained during council meetings about unfair hikes in their fees as well.
After several property owners filed an appeal with the county, council members have agreed to look into implementing a credit policy for properties that meet certain criteria of helping manage stormwater.
Nix said on Wednesday that creating a credit policy for churches could help mitigate costs. He said leaders of smaller churches have called him concerned about the survival of the church with the new fees.
“We have to pay the bills first, and so then it cuts back on our services that we provide for the community,” Nix said.
Nix said he hopes Berkeley Council moves forward with the credit policy, but he also wants the county to reevaluate implementing such a steep change so immediately.
“I’m hoping that Berkeley County will do something different,” Nix said. “I just don’t know what it will be.”
Berkeley County Council will consider the policy after Jan. 1, according to Berkeley County spokesperson Carli Drayton.