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      Drainage fees to be added to Amarillo utility bills

      It's not a large amount, but Amarillo city leaders approved a new fee that going to start appearing on everyone's utility bill in a couple months.

      And every cent of that new money is already earmarked for storm drainage.

      During heavy storms, the water's got to go somewhere. In the past couple decades, Amarillo's leaders have approved and built playa lakes and miles of underground drainage topping the 120 million dollar mark. But before now, there wasn't a specific way to pay for it.

      The new Drainage fee will go into effect this October and it depends on the size of a residence. About 1/4th of the homes in the city will pay $1.71, 1/2 will pay $2.51 and the remainder, large homes will pay $3.79 per month while commercial properties are looking at $39.15, according to Van Hagan, the Assistant Director of Public Works for Amarillo.

      "This will be the sole source of funding to take care of that and in the past, there was no funding-it was only as it deteriorated and started to fail and we have to go in and search and find some funding to take care of that. And so this gives us a source of funds so we can take care of this on a regular basis."

      The money comes from finding an equitable way for people to pay and therefore is a fee. not a tax, and Hagan says Amarillo is one of the last cities of it's size in the state to enact such a measure.

      "Amarillo's one of the last cities to implement such a drainage fee, most of the other cities already have them and have for years."

      Postcards are going out now to tell people about the new user fee and to let everyone know that the fee won't start until October water bill comes in.

      "It can only be used for drainage and that's by law. it would be a violation of state law to be used for anything else," said Hagan.

      If you're a renter, the name on the water bill will be the one billed, and there are some exemptions.

      Property owned by the state, institutes of higher learning, underdeveloped properties and any property with a private drainage system.