BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — The city-parish is under pressure to get a new stormwater fee passed to prevent the federal government from taking over.

The stormwater utility fee was introduced to the public last week. This makes it a fee, rather than a tax, that it is a charge of service. On Wednesday, the East Baton Rouge Metro Council held a meeting to discuss how to move forward with this proposed fee.

The stormwater utility fee would cost $1.36 per 500 square feet for both residential and commercial. The city is charging based on how large a business or house is and other impervious surfaces like a pool, patio, or garage.

This could be a large bill for many people in the Capital Area.

After the meeting, Chief Communications Officer, Mark Armstrong provided further clarification related to the fee, saying, “Please know that the stormwater fee that we are proposing will not have an automatic increase every year. The fee is based on the amount of impervious surface on a parcel property, as opposed to the value of the property. $1.36 per 500 ft.² of impervious surfaces per month.”

Armstrong also said, “East Baton Rouge Parish, with the exemption of Zachary, Baker, and Central, is facing federal enforcement. By creating this proposal, the mayor’s office says federal enforcement can be avoided.”

The proposed stormwater fee would fund a long-term drainage maintenance strategy and allow us to avoid burdensome federal enforcement action.

The last time Baton Rouge experienced federal enforcement action was against the city’s sewage system. The sewage system resulted in a 4.5 % increase in sewage fees.

“There are other ways, we could have approached it, but it would have been significantly more costly to the people of the parish,” said Assistant Chief Administrative Office of EBR City-Parish Kelvin Hill.

The city currently uses American Rescue Plan funds, to clean up over 20 million pounds of debris to help with flooding. However, according to the federal government, they need to do better.

“We’ve heard from the federal government as well as the state government, that we as a parish as a community, need to do a better job,” says EBR Metro Councilmember Rowdy Gaudet of District 3.

The city is currently spending $9 million on stormwater maintenance. However, Hill says that the city needs to be spending $40 million to avoid federal enforcement action.

The metro council will vote on the fee on October 26th.

For more information about the Stormwater Utility Fee, click here.